The Limerick Post - Saturday, 04 September 2010.

Houses out of public view allowed to rot - Residents Alliance formed

by Colum Coomey

HOMEOWNERS in Ballinacurra Weston remain in limbo about their future as conditions continue to decline. They allege that the authorities have more or less ignored their plight and are allowing houses to rot.

“We are out of public view and consequently out of sight, and as a result do not figure on the priority list,” said one irate resident.

They argue that contact or information from Regeneration since the initiative was launched three years ago has been minimal. Brendan Hayden of Southside Regeneration, responded: “Up to recently we had no communication from Government on what was happening, now that the funding has been secured things will move on a lot more quickly”.

A regeneration newsletter will be launched next month, distributed to the areas in question to keep them informed of developments.

However, residents are also concerned that it is no longer economically viable for the Regeneration Agency to honour their promise to find them a new home.

“I remortgaged my house two years ago for €80,000 and they will only offer me €30,000 for it now. I’ll leave here homeless still owing €47,000”, said Angela Hogan, Crecora Avenue.

Mr Hayden agreed that the situation whereby more senior homeowners received market value from city council needed to be addressed.

“This is a constant problem in all areas.

“We understand that the elderly who dispose of their homes have very limited options as they cannot get another mortgage”. The house next door to the lady in question was knocked recently after lying derelict for two years.

“The water wasn’t turned off properly when it was boarded up and the damp damaged my walls and flooring. Since they knocked it, the place has become a rubbish dump”.

Angela is furious with both Limerick City Council and Regeneration. “All they do is drive around the estate in their fancy cars saluting people. They never get anything done”. Directly across the road there are three derelict houses which are also exposed and surrounded by rubbish, including broken sheets of glass. “It’s disgusting, waking up everyday and having to look at this pig sty,” she said.

These houses have been boarded up for two years, but others in the estate continue to be boarded up.

One house which was occupied until last week suffered fire damage.

The fire-damaged furniture and appliances are piled in a heap outside.

“It’s an absolute disgrace, Regeneration need to decide to knock these houses or maintain them to some acceptable level,” said Mattie Collins, chairman of the newly formed residents group, Ballinacurra Weston Resident’s Alliance.

Members were outraged after a recent plea to the authorities to clean up vacant houses was refused on “health and safety grounds”.

However, Brendan Hayden said that Southside Regeneration, would have no difficulty supporting such a community scheme.

The Resident’s Alliance is made up primarily of former representatives for the area on the regeneration forum.

Mattie has lived on the Clarina Avenue for 30 years, but for the past two he has to look across at a row of four derelict houses.

“It’s absolutely frightening, children are gaining entry at the back and climbing onto the roof throwing stones at the neighbours and passers by.

He is adamant that these derelict properties are attracting drug-users and vandals which poses a serious health and safety risk.

“There are people breaking in there to take drugs and when the houses are left open, the children have access. Why has it taken so long to knock these properties?”.

“The priority seems to be knocking down houses and getting people out of the area”