Controversial proposals to spend more money on the halting site in Rhebogue were stopped earlier this month by city councillors who are now pushing to have it closed.
The site has been at the centre of claims that members of the nearby St Patrick’s GAA club are being harassed and intimidated by persons associated with the site.
At Limerick City Council’s last ever monthly meeting under the current local government structures, City Manager Conn Murray told council members that it was now their intention to close the Rhebogue site.
He described the site as “a serious problem with complex issues”. However, he said there was no immediate fix and until a sustainable solution was found for families on the site, he vowed to abide to the local authority’s statutory duty.
At a special meeting last month, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon (FF) strongly opposed plans for refurbishment and the construction of additional accommodation at the site, citing it as a waste of taxpayers money.
According to Cllr O’Hanlon, not only do the residents of Rhebogue and members of the neighbouring St Patrick’s GAA Club want the site shut down, but most of the Travellers also want to move and be freer to practice their culture and way of life.
“This site has failed. It’s time for firm action and dialogue between senior Council officials, families on the site, the Irish Traveller Movement (ITM), local residents, St Patrick’s GAA and the Gardai,” Cllr O’Hanlon insisted.
“The conditions on this site are deplorable and unacceptable for any human being. The site is overcrowded and the traveller families themselves want out to live in conditions that are acceptable to them where they can practice their traditions,” he said.
Cllr John Gilligan (Ind) said it was a very difficult situation and called on the Gardaí to take immediate action in addressing issues at the site.
“The word Traveller is a misnomer. They don’t travel anymore. It’s political correctness gone mad when travellers are claiming to be a different ethnic group. They are certainly not; they are Irish people,” said Cllr Gilligan.
“I don’t care if they are white, black, Jews or Protestants but they do not have the right to behave anyway they want and disturb the peace and rights of every other person in their houses. If they want to make progress then they have to be integrated into society,” he concluded.