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Ballinacurra Weston Residents' Alliance
Weston Gardens Residents' Association
Full Page Ad in Limerick Leader - Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

An Open Letter to Brendan Kenny, Chief Executive Officer
of the Limerick Regeneration Agencies.

Dear Brendan,

We are writing to you to express our disappointment with the decision of the Board of the Southside Regeneration Agency to wilfully exclude our residents from membership of a residents' committee that will discuss and make proposals concerning the regeneration of our area.

The grounds for our exclusion, that people in the neighbouring estate of Ballinacurra Weston would object to the involvement of people from Weston Gardens, Rosbrien, because we are a private estate, are not substantiated and we find difficult to believe.

The areas earmarked for regeneration in our vicinity are Clarina Park, Clarina Avenue, Crecora Avenue and Beechgrove Avenue in Ballinacurra Weston and our own area of Weston Gardens, Rosbrien.

As the only established and long-standing residents association that exists in the aforementioned areas it is perplexing that we should be excluded from participating in this residents' committee. We have a long history of dealing with Limerick City Council and the Gardaí; our residents have a wealth of "knowledge and experience".

Even more perplexing is the fact that earlier this year you met with a representative of our association, invited them to join this committee and requested a list of like-minded people in the area.

We suspect that our exclusion from this committee is not because of alleged objections from unnamed residents in Ballinacurra Weston, but stems more from the fact that we favour the refurbishment and restoration of our small estate to the demolition of our historic homes, most of which have stood for over 100 years.

We do not recognise this committee as representing our best interests nor is it acceptable that such a committee should be mandated to discuss or propose anything concerning our homes while demanding our absence.

Initially, we were concerned at being included in the regeneration process. Long awaited plans by Limerick City Council to refurbish our area were suspended, pending publication of the Fitzgerald Report and our Council officials refused to discuss the matter with us. We had spent six years negotiating with City Hall, we had secured funding from central government and while we were not entirely happy with the Councils proposals, it was certainly better than nothing.

Council officials eventually met with a representative of our association to discuss the Fitzgerald Report, insisting that our area was part of it because it mentions Ballinacurra Weston.

Weston Gardens is no more part of Ballinacurra Weston than Weston Villas on the Rosbrien road. However, we applauded the recommendations of the Fitzgerald Report and sought to ensure we were part of it. In the past, Limerick City Council had refused to discuss the troubles endured by the residents of the neighbouring estate, insisting that it was really none of our business. Now we would be part of something that would benefit the whole of our city.

The introduction of the Fitzgerald Report clearly states that there are three strands to dealing with the problems in our troubled estates, which must be progressed together:

  • Dealing with the issue of criminality. This will be fundamental to creating the conditions for other interventions to be successful, and for restoring the confidence of local communities.

  • Economic and infrastructural regeneration, to create employment, unlock value, improve access, and create a better commercial and housing mix.

  • Developing co-ordinated responses to social and educational problems, in order to break the cycle of disadvantage.

The first recommendation of the Fitzgerald Report is to "Put in place intensive policing arrangements:...there needs to be a highly visible Garda presence at all times in these estates in order to restore confidence and stability in the communities. A policing structure, headed by a Superintendent, should be established that is exclusively dedicated to the policing of these areas. This will involve a minimum of 100 additional Gardaí, with appropriate management structures, whose sole function will be the policing of these areas."

The Report concludes: "The interventions recommended in this report across all three strands can be put in place very quickly, allowing implementation to begin within a number of months."

Despite your previous personal assurances to our representative, there is not "a highly visible Garda presence at all times in these estates". Gardaí that have been assigned to Limerick in recent months cannot be deployed as recommended as they have merely restored Garda levels to what they were in 1995.

Your most recent assertion to our representative that you are happy with progress and that issues concerning policing "are a matter for the Gardaí" does not suggest the level of co-operation between regeneration and policing outlined in the Fitzgerald Report and does not inspire confidence in our community.

In the absence of promised protection from the state, intimidation, violence and fear will prevail. Recent calls for people in Southill not to vacate their homes and to have faith and trust in the Southside Regeneration Agency seem disingenuous.

Our association continues to support the recommendations of the Fitzgerald Report and lament the fact that these recommendations seem to have become the most we should hope for, instead of being, the least we can expect.

We have no faith, trust or confidence in the Southside Regeneration Agency and do not wish to be included in its remit.

Yours faithfully,

The Committee of the Weston Gardens Residents Association.

Heather Cunningham
 Cathal McCarthy
Darren Maher
Tony Hammill
Jean Leahy
Seamus Breathnach