A MAJOR study has found significant intimidation, violence, lack of self-esteem and disaffection amongst young men in marginalised Limerick communities.
The study, by the University of Limerick (UL), was carried out by Patricia Kelleher and Carmel Kelleher of Kelleher Associates, in collaboration with Professor Pat O’Connor, head of UL’s humanities and social sciences faculty.
It found that a multitude of factors, including neighbourhood violence, traumatic loss of friends and relatives, and social and emotional difficulties, combined with educational deficits, are contributing to the difficulties of young men in these areas.
However, despite the threat of violence and intimidation, there is still a strong sense of place in the community.
Of the 18 interviewees, only two stated that they would like to move out of the area in which they live.
The 18 young men interviewed in this exploratory study grew up in areas designated under the RAPID (Revitalising Areas through Planning, Investment and Development) Programme. The majority were disaffected from the school environment at an early age.
The study and its implications will be discussed shortly with representatives of the Limerick Regeneration Agencies.
Prof O’Connor said: “This study paints a very real and tragic picture of social and personal deprivation in marginalised areas of Limerick and exhibits the depth of the challenge facing the Limerick Regeneration Agencies.
Among the key recommendations arising from the study are the need for greater links between Ggardaí and the local community, with a clear requirement for more gardaí “on the beat” and for community policing to be established.
It states the challenge for the recently established Limerick Regeneration Agencies is to make the built environment more resident-friendly and major social and economic regeneration also needs to occur.
The study also recommends that as schools are in a good position to identify the social and emotional difficulties that interfere with learning, they need to be highly resourced and to liaise with other services and plan a response.
The study found a need for interventions which can disrupt the stages of violence through which many young people in these areas move to adulthood.
The study found a need to enhance the visibility of public services, which are seen as retreating from communities. Many young people feel powerless in their interaction with state agencies and there is a great sense that the needs of families are not being met.
The study found that neighbourhoods are being fractured by poverty, drugs, social exclusion and crime. There is “a lot of unresolved anger and intimidation around revenge killings”.
Carmel Kelleher said: “Bereavement and anger can manifest in inter-generational feuding, which needs to be addressed through a variety of interventions, including more street-work, bereavement counselling and group work.”
Almost all of the interviewees found school difficult, particularly at secondary level. In some cases their special needs were not diagnosed or met by the school, with many left without basic reading and writing skills.
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