& Overview of our EU Petition
In February 2007,
plans to regenerate our area were long-fingered. We felt abandoned
by our Councilor's, TD's and our government, so we decided to
look to Europe for help.
We contacted our
Munster MEP's. The first and only MEP to return our call was
Kathy Sinnott MEP and within in two day's of speaking to her
she was in Weston Gardens assessing the situation first hand.
Kathy agreed that
the Irish authorities were neglecting to do anything for us
and believed that we might be able to petition the EU on issues
of an environmental and public health concern.
We submitted a formal
petition to the EU in March 2007. The petition was easy to put
together as we had years of documentation and correspondence,
including several annual reports from the Public Health Inspector,
which made recommendations that were never even attempted to
be implemented. (In Ireland there is no legal obligation on
local authorities to heed or implement the Public Health Inspector
In June 2007 the
EU Committee on Petitions were on a fact finding visit to Ireland
and although our petition hadn't yet been deemed admissible,
Kathy persuaded the Committee to visit Weston Gardens as they
would be passing through Limerick.
On Thursday, 28th
June 2007, a large touring bus negotiated the narrow boreen
into Weston Gardens. The visiting European dignitaries had to
step over rubbish that was literally dumped minutes before they
arrived. (We had swept the boreen that morning!).
The narrow boreen that is the entrance to Weston Gardens, illegal
dumping is an ongoing problem here, but it is our residents
that clean it up - the Council merely collects it afterwards.
The rain was relentless,
so after a brief walkabout we all got on the bus, where our
Cathaoirleach, Cathal McCarthy addressed our visitors and handed
out briefing documents, including copies of the Fitzgerald
Report. We invited members of the Southill Women's Group
from Keyes Park to share our time and highlight the problems
in Southill. They were encouraged to submit a petition by the
Committee on Petitions.
Pictured in Limerick Leader from left to right, Cindy
Fogarty, resident; Cathal & Ruairí McCarthy, residents(towards
front); David Lowe, Head of Secretariat; Heather Cunningham,
resident; Radu Podgorean MEP, Romania; Francis Jacobs, Head
of Office; Kathy Sinnott MEP, Munster; Marcin Libicki, Chairman
of Petitions Committee; David Hammill, resident. (the Southill
Women's Group were afraid to be photographed)
petition was declared admissible on 24th October 2007 as Article
4 of the EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD) requires Member
States to take necessary measures to ensure that waste is recovered
or disposed of without endangering human health or the environment.
It provides that Member States shall take the necessary measures
to prohibit the abandonment, dumping or uncontrolled disposal
of waste. (In
2005, following EU Commission legal action, The European Court
of Justice ruled against Ireland for the lack of Implementation
of the WFD.)
EU Commission requested the Irish authorities to respond to
our petition, which they did on 8th February 2008, claiming
that all our problems were now resolved. In short, they lied!
Limerick City Council even took credit for the clean-up's that
we had done on the boreen.
February 2009 the EU Commission ruled that (based on the information
that they received from the Irish authorities) there was no
infringement of Community Law.
However, in March
2009, we were invited to Brussels by the EU Committee on Petitions
to contest this ruling. Our delegation could consist of no more
then six people.
Of course by now
the situation had changed and we were dealing more with the
Southside Regeneration Agency than we were with Limerick City
Council. We were told that we were part of a bigger picture,
part of the 'Master' Plans.
With this in mind,
the WGRA was instrumental in forming Limerick Regeneration Watch
and had forged links with residents in other regeneration areas.
Earlier in the year,
Cathal McCarthy had called on the Regeneration Agencies to sponsor
a clean-up of all areas under their remit, citing sub-articles
contained within Article 5 (Functions of the Agency) of the
Limerick Regeneration (Establishment) Orders 2007 (amended 2008)
that would allow the Agencies to sponsor such a clean-up:
It shall be the general duty of the Agency to secure - improvements
in the physical environment of the Southside Area.
Without prejudice to sub-article (1), the Agency may do all
such things, including the incurring of expenditure and, with
the Ministers consent, the borrowing of money, which appear
to it to be requisite, advantageous or incidental to, or which
appears to it to facilitate the performance of its functions.
call fell on deaf ears. Indeed the Agency had refused a copy
of the January 2009 report for Weston Gardens and Ballinacurra
Weston from the Public Health Inspector when offered.
Cathal McCarthy led
a delegation of residents from regeneration areas, which included
Heather Cunningham (WGRA), Tommy Daly (Moyross Residents' Alliance)
and Mark Franklin (MRA). Independent film maker, Nicky Larkin
and a journalist from the Limerick Leader, Nick Rabbitts accompanied
Our mission was to
have the issue of illegal dumping and anti-social behaviour
re-investigated in the context of the city-wide regeneration
project. Cathal was given 5-minutes to make our appeal.
Cathoairleach of the WGRA and Limerick Regeneration Watch, Cathal
McCarthy, address EU Commissioners and MEP's in Brussels on
16th April 2009.
Cathal pointed out
that the Public Health Inspector reports were ignored by our
Council and the Regeneration Agencies. The EU bore witness to
the third-world conditions that decent law-abiding residents
have to endure as MEP's and Commissioners were shown recent
photographs of illegal dumping displayed on a 10ft screen.
Ballinacurra Weston - 10th March 2009. This is one of many photos
Ballinacurra Weston, Southill,
St. Mary's Park and Moyross,that
was displayed on a 10ft screen while Cathal made his address.
Munster MEP, Kathy Sinnott supports our petition and urges the
Commission to visit Limerick's regeneration areas.
succeeded. A delegation of EU Commissioners and MEP's gave a
commitment to visit all of Limericks regeneration areas in the
near future. Shortly after we returned we were informed that
the Regeneration Agencies were to give Limerick City Council
€500,000 to sponsor a clean up of areas targeted for regeneration.
The clean-ups took place from July - September 2009.
Our petition is still
on-going and we expect to be back in Brussels in the near future.
Inside the EU Committee on Petitions. Pictured at the front
is Ross O'Loughlainn from the Cork group that were petitioning
the EU regarding the N8. Our thanks to Ross for putting together
the powerpoint presentation showing the photographs of illegal-dumping
in Southill, Ballinacurra Weston, St. Mary's Park and Moyross.
Ross was able to download the pictures from this website the
night before. Thanks again Ross.
have had the wool pulled over their eyes entirely. What I see
is an absolute disgrace. When I was environment minister in
the UK, if this came to me via a member of parliament, I would
put a management order on Limerick City Council and demand they
do something about it. This should be fixed period by the authorities."
- British MEP Sir Robert Atkins
conditions are reminiscent of the developing world yet it is
taking place in a developed country in the EU. We should look
into the source of the information, and ask the question why
letters printed with official letterheads are not worth the
paper they are printed on."
- Romanian MEP Victor Bostinaru
"This is a scandal.
It is untenable. It is clear that EU citizens have been left
defenseless. We must hold the local authorities to account."
- Spanish MEP Willy Meyer Pleite.
is an impossible situation for people to live with, but this
is a weapon of war. The reason this waste is here is that gangs
rooted in drugs are using waste as a way of getting rid of people
in decent neighbourhoods which then provides them with the community
they need to operate. They burn out cars, they vandalise property,
but more importantly they attack human beings, intimidate old
people, and they murder."
- Munster MEP Kathy Sinnott
THE MEDIA SAID
Irish Times - Article
Irish News - Article
Independent - Article
Limerick Leader - Article
Limerick Post - Article
Link News - Article