Fear over proposed homeless project in Limerick

Willie O'Dea at the site of the proposed housing project in Thomondgate
Willie O’Dea at the site of the proposed housing project in Thomondgate

THOMONDGATE residents claim they are being terrorised by anti-social behaviour caused by residents of a women’s homeless unit and are opposing plans for a supported housing unit in a derelict site known locally as Collins Cottages.

One woman who lives near women’s emergency hostel Thomond House, claims people are living in fear since its former clients were moved 18 months ago and replaced with “younger more volatile clients”.

Local residents say that some clients at Thomond House, a facility run by the Associated Charities Trust (ACT), have serious drug and mental health issues and engage in “serious anti-social behaviour “.

“It’s not unusual for children to come upon syringes and other drug related paraphernalia, around Thomond House. They are totally unsupervised over there and have a free run of the place with terrifying fights spilling out onto the street,” another resident said.

Another resident said they could not understand why another homeless unit was being proposed in the centre of a tourist area between Thomond Park and King John’s Castle.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

Local Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea says that Thomondgate can’t cope with another homeless shelter and believes that planning should not be granted for new homeless accommodation across from Thomond House.

“I understand there are planning issues regarding potential flooding at the site at Collins Cottages, but even if there weren’t, it isn’t a suitable site for homeless accommodation,” he said.

Thomond House project manager Hugh Silke, insists that the women’s hostel is the only “high support” emergency shelter in the area and that the Altamira centre provides “mainstream accommodation” for older women. He added that Fianna Fáil housing minister Michael Finneran backed plans for a mainstream accommodation unit for older people at the Collins Cottage site in 2009.

“Young women at Thomond House are in a place where there is no place for them. We don’t want to see them lying out on the street. I know it is a big ask for the people of Thomondgate but these girls have nowhere else to go. They have no other options and need our support to iron out their issues,” he said.

In a statement to the Limerick Post, Limerick Council said that local residents attended a meeting on October 2 along with management of Thomond House, Limerick Council and the HSE. A number of the concerns raised are to be immediately addressed by Thomond House and engagement with community Gardaí is also to take place. A follow-up meeting has been arranged in early November.

“We would ask that Deputy O’Dea share evidence of his claims that all anti-social behaviour and drugs related litter is as a result of Thomond House residents. Management of Thomond House feel the development of the site would transform the area which is currently derelict and deter anti-social behaviour,” the statement concluded.