DRUNK students having sex on doorsteps and taxi drivers urinating outside people’s homes are among the issues Limerick city residents say they have to deal with on college nights out.
Families in Little Gerald Griffin Street claim they are kept awake until 5am every Thursday as noisy, intoxicated students pour on to the city centre from nearby bars and clubs to be ferried home by waiting taxis.
The nightmare begins for residents around 10pm when taxis drop off students on Little Gerald Griffin Street, and escalates between 2 and 5am when they return to collect them after their night out.
Video footage filmed by residents shows rowdy scenes at 3am with students shouting, glasses being smashed, taxi drivers beeping their car horns, and vehicles driving onto the narrow footpaths.
Barry Keogh, who has lived on Little Gerald Griffin Street for the last 18 years with his wife and children, says residents are not allowed park their cars on the narrow street, which has double yellow lines, yet every Thursday night for the past year taxi drivers use it as an unauthorised taxi rank.
“There could be 300 taxis here on a Thursday night. Some nights they are backed up to Cross’s Funeral Home and students tell us that taxi drivers tell them to come here to get a taxi, despite the fact it’s not a taxi rank.
“We’re kept awake until five in the morning with the noise. One night I went out, and there were two students having sex outside my side door. It’s disgusting carry on. This week is Rag Week and it’s like a war zone”, he said.
Another local resident Essie Golden claims that on another occasion a taxi driver was captured on video urinating on one of her neighbour’s front doors.
“I’m not racist but all these taxi drivers are black or Indian. They use abusive language and tell us to ‘get the f**k in’ when we step outside our doors. They use our homes as toilets and I’ve seen five people getting into the back of some of these taxis.
“There have been concerts in the Milk Market with hundreds of people attending and we’ve never had a problem. This just happens on Thursday night, which is a big student night out,” she added.
Sinn Fein councillor Malachy McCreesh, who has been liaising with the Council on the residents’ behalf, has called on the taxi regulator to take immediate action. He also pointed out that Little Gerald Griffin Street is the only city centre street without CCTV cameras.
“People can’t be expected to live like this. I have been in touch with the Council to get the taxi regulator to do something. It’s appalling what’s happening to this community and they shouldn’t have to put up with it.
At a recent meeting between Limerick City and County Council’s Traffic Department and Cllr McCreesh, the council undertook to investigate the alleged operation of an unauthorised taxi stand and did so on two night-time occasions.
The Council was able to confirm from their investigations that the site was being used as an unauthorised taxi stand.
In a statement to the Limerick Post, the Council said, “It appears the operators are servicing the northern side of the city, including the Castletroy area.
“The Council does not operate a clamping or vehicle removal service, while its traffic warden service hours of operation are from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday. Gardaí have been consulted in relation to improving enforcement of traffic regulations in the Milk Market area outside of these hours. They have deployed resources to deal with the issue and have issued fixed penalty notices to a number of operators of the unauthorised taxi stand.”
Concerns have also been raised by representatives of Limerick Taxi Drivers and Limerick Taxis Association regarding the citywide operation of non-appointed taxi stands. A meeting is scheduled to take place between the Council’s Traffic Department and the groups in early March.
“Limerick City and County Council empathises with the situation faced by residents of Little Gerald Griffin Street and is committed to working with them, public representatives, Gardaí and taxi organisations to resolving the matter. The Council Traffic Department does not have CCTV operating on the street and believes the matter can and will be resolved without it.”