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City estate residents want regeneration — but not demolition

IN your report (June 13), Limerick Regeneration Agencies CEO Brendan Kenny seems to assert he is waiting for the residents of Weston Gardens, Rosbrien, to make up our minds about the regeneration of our semi-derelict estate.

Mr Kenny made the announcement on June 3 at a public meeting that “nothing will be done” with the nine terraced houses of Weston Gardens, Rosbrien, that they were not under the remit of the Southside Regeneration Agency (SRA) and would not be touched as they are “privately owned”.

The meeting was organised by the SRA to “dispel rumours” that were allegedly circulating in the Rosbrien area regarding the demolition of people’s homes.

Mr Kenny did not bring along the southside regeneration area map that was recently approved by the Dáil and which clearly indicates with a red line the land that is under his agency’s remit. Instead he chose to refer to an aerial photograph. He told the meeting that “the line stops at Weston Gardens”. However, he gave me a copy of this map in March and far from stopping at Weston Gardens, the red line encloses the ESB depot and Punches Close in the Rosbrien area. Our homes are in its centre.

As well as problems with criminal and anti-social behaviour, Weston Gardens has been without a refuse collection since privatisation.

Numbers 1, 2 and 3 Weston Gardens were burnt out by criminal elements in 2001 and were acquired by Limerick City Council in 2005, but plans to refurbish our area were abandoned by the city council in 2007 and we were informed our homes were earmarked for regeneration. Our association has tried to engage with Mr Kenny and his agency to negotiate an agreement for the regeneration of Weston Gardens since his arrival last June.

Mr Kenny is in receipt of our document for the regeneration of Weston Gardens, (‘Renewal, Integration, Regeneration’) since December 6 last year. We had made it clear to Mr Kenny from the outset we were opposed to the demolition of our historic homes, most of which have stood for more than 100 years, and that we were seeking refurbishment and precinct improvement.

Our proposal was based on everything that Mr Kenny said was possible for our area at our meeting in November 2007. To date, we have had five unproductive meetings and we were none the wiser, until Mr Kenny’s public announcement. Over the years I have witnessed my elderly neighbours burnt out of their homes, while others have died of natural causes having spent their autumn years in a perpetual state of fear.

However, through our constant vigilance, co-operation with the gardaí and persistent complaints to the city council’s tenants enforcement office we had managed to turn the situation around long before the establishment of the regeneration agencies. We want to be part of the regeneration process, but ultimately the decision to regenerate our small estate is one that is Mr Kenny’s alone to make. At our last meeting, he told us we were no longer under the city council’s remit as we were part of regeneration. Then he announced we are no longer part of regeneration either and now he claims it is up to us to decide.

However, our community is resilient and determined not to give up. We have had enough of the degeneration of our area and have begun a major clean-up to combat it, involving the painting of the burnt-out houses and a mural that expresses our view of Limerick’s so-called regeneration project.

Cathal McCarthy

Cathaoirleach

Weston Gardens Residents Association

5 Weston Gardens

Rosbrien

Limerick


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