“A SMALL percentage of people in Askeaton are intimidating their neighbours and there’s lots of drug dealing going on.”
This was the claim from Fine Gael councillor Stephen Keary at this month’s Home and Social Development Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) in County Hall.
During a debate on the Limerick City and County Council’s New Antisocial Behaviour Strategy, Cllr Keary raised concerns about the behaviour of a small number of social housing tenants in the West Limerick town.
Housing Services Officer Seamus Hayes ensured council members that there was a lot of enforcement work going on behind the scenes that they might not be aware of. The council, he said, receive 400 complaints a year of antisocial behaviour throughout the city and county.
“We have 5,500 tenancies and 95 per cent of those comply with the law and are hardworking people who are getting on with their lives. Unfortunately, you will always have a minority who want to make life difficult for others,” Mr Hayes said.
Fine Gael councillor Sarah Kiely called for greater background checks and more inspections of rental properties before social housing is allocated. She said this would prevent antisocial behaviour.
“Checks should be done. I don’t see that we are doing them,” Cllr Kiely told the council executive.
”The Council needs additional resources, more robust resources, in my point of view.”
Cllr Tom Ruddle (FG) also questioned if poor vetting by council staff of prospective tenants was a problem.
Sinn Fein councillor Tom Collopy wanted to know if staff sit down with new tenants “one-to-one” and explain the rules and regulations before keys are handed over.
Mr Hayes reassured councillors that the Council’s current tenancy enforcement model was not only effective, but successful.
”There’s a lot of enforcement activity going on all over the city. There’s a huge amount of enforcement activity. We are quite proactive and very successful.
”We do our vetting and Garda checks on all prospective tenants but, with the best will in the world, things can go wrong. But we are seeing improvements and quicker reactions now to complaints,” he concluded.