Irish Times - Friday, April 17, 2009
conditions 'a scandal'
SMYTH in Brussels
MEMBERS OF the European
Parliament from other member states have compared living conditions
in parts of Limerick to those experienced in the Third World
and demanded a new EU investigation into illegal dumping activity.
A Moyross businessman
told the hearing of a committee of MEPs how he counted over
50 spent bullet shells near his premises after gangland feuding.
The MEPs also accused
Limerick City Council of misleading the European Commission
by claiming it is providing an adequate waste collection service
in all areas of the city.
are reminiscent of the developing world yet it is taking place
in a developed country in the EU, said Romanian MEP Victor
Bostinaru after listening to a presentation made to the European
Parliaments petitions committee by a local resident.
a resident of Westin Gardens in Limerick, told MEPs the estate
suffers from illegal dumping and anti-social behaviour, and
is plagued by gangs. One elderly resident is so scared he has
boarded up his house and lives in darkness, he added.
Councils claim that there is a waste collector with a
small truck that could collect our domestic waste regularly
is false, said Mr McCarthy, who added that he felt the
council is instituting a deliberate policy to try to get residents
to agree to resettlement to allow large-scale regeneration.
He said the authorities
had collected waste and brought pest control to remove rats
last week, but this was only after they learned he was to appear
at the committee. I believe if you send a delegation to
investigate the problems it would send a message that Europe
matters and it cares, Mr McCarthy told MEPs during his
Limerick City Councils director of environment services,
later told The Irish Times the council had not misled the EU
and insisted a waste service was provided. We are working
hard to deal with social problems and waste issues . . . The
reality is that some people there are just not interested in
a clean environment, she said.
Another member of
the delegation, local businessman Thomas Daly who lives in the
Moyross estate, said people were frightened for their lives:
I counted 58 spent shells outside my house with different
gangs shooting at each other in pitched battles. He added
a Government promise to provide a designated Garda force to
combat gang activity had not been fulfilled. Photographs shown
to the committee during the presentation revealing boarded-up
houses, illegal dumping and piles of refuse drew angry responses
This is a scandal.
It is untenable. It is clear that EU citizens have been left
defenceless. We must hold the local authorities to account,
said Spanish MEP Willy Meyer Pleite.
Munster MEP Kathy
Sinnott said illegal dumping was a weapon of war used by gangs
who wanted decent people to move out of neighbourhoods to allow
them take over.
She also said it
was clear the commission had been duped by Limerick City Council,
which had sent letters to the EU executive claiming it had solved
the waste problem. Under EU law, the council is obliged to ensure
waste is recovered or disposed of without endangering human
The European Court
of Justice has already ruled against Ireland for failing to
correctly implement the EUs waste framework directive
in 2005. Peter Wessman, director general of environment in the
European Commission, told the petitions committee the information
he had received from the Irish authorities suggested they were
now in compliance. But after viewing the photographs, he said
the commission would investigate the matter again.
The chair of the
committee, Polish MEP Marcin Libicki, who visited deprived areas
of Limerick in June 2007, said the photographs showed the
terrible state of the place. He said the committee would
send a letter to Limerick City Council and the Government explaining
it was requesting the commission to undertake a new investigation
into the conditions in parts of Limerick.
He said the committee
would table a resolution for voting at the plenary session of
the parliament requesting the commission to take legal action
against Ireland for failing to comply with EU laws on waste