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Limerick residents want regeneration chief sacked!
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Monday October 25, 2010 13:58 by Cathal McCarthy - Limerick Regeneration Watch info at limerickregeneration dot org 087 29 29 676
A petition calling on the Minister for Environment, John Gormley TD, to sack the CEO of Limerick’s Regeneration Agencies was launched this week.
PETITION: “We, the undersigned, call on the Minister for Environment, Heritage & Local Government, to remove Mr. Brendan Kenny as CEO of the Limerick Regeneration Agencies and to replace him with someone that is more concerned with the immediate needs of the Communities residing in regeneration areas.”
A petition calling on the Minister for Environment, John Gormley TD, to sack the CEO of Limerick’s Regeneration Agencies was launched this week. Residents’ groups from the North and Southside of the City have come together under the umbrella of Limerick Regeneration Watch to demand that Mr. Kenny be replaced with “someone that is more concerned with the immediate needs of the Communities residing in regeneration areas.”
The Weston Gardens Residents’ Association, the Moyross Residents’ Alliance and the Ballinacurra Weston Residents’ Alliance are united in their resolve to have Mr. Kenny removed from office.
“Since the establishment of the Limerick Regeneration Agencies by Ministerial order over 3 years ago, we have borne witness to the systematic deterioration and degeneration of the areas under Mr. Kenny’s remit.” said Cathal McCarthy, Chair of Limerick Regeneration Watch.
“Mr. Kenny was tasked with implementing the Fitzgerald Report, but where’s the dedicated Garda service recommended for regeneration areas and where’s the drugs treatment centre that our City desperately needs? Where’s the urgent educational intervention that was promised? The immediate social needs of our Communities were never adequately addressed; all we got was lip service. Essentially, Mr. Kenny was tasked with restoring confidence and stability to our estates and he has done the opposite. Displacing problems is not the same as solving them,” said Mr. McCarthy.
“Now he has been entrusted with over €337 million of taxpayers money and only 7% of that is earmarked for social regeneration, most of the money is for roads and infrastructural work” added Mr. McCarthy.
Matt Collins, who is Chair of the recently formed Ballinacurra Weston Residents’ Alliance, said that at a recent meeting Mr. Kenny threatened that none of the money would be spent in Ballinacurra Weston unless the group dissolved.
“The BWRA represents over 90% of households in the immediate regeneration area, with completed membership forms still coming in, yet Mr. Kenny claims that there are two groups in the area and that he can only deal with one, his so-called residents’ forum. He said that none of the money would be spent in Ballinacurra Weston unless our group dissolved and joined the forum. At a previous meeting he asked if we would we drop the word ‘Alliance’ and change it to ‘Forum’, he said that the existing forum was ‘defunct’ and that we could replace it. I, and most of our new committee resigned from this forum because it was getting us nowhere and we were not being listened to, why would we want to go back?” asked Mr. Collins.
“Needless to say, we didn’t change our name. Instead we invited the remaining residents on the forum to join our group and most of them did, but that wasn’t good enough for Mr. Kenny” added Mr. Collins”
“Our entire committee walked out of our last meeting with Mr. Kenny after he said that he’d prefer to deal with children than with us and went on to suggest that we should fight it out in Cal’s Field with the remaining 3 residents on his forum. That was an insult to our Community. I suppose he was only adding insult to the injury he has already inflicted on us with boarded up houses, derelict sites and rat infestations that have thrived since he came to town.” said Mr. Collins.
Mr. Collins lamented the wasted years saying, “Most of us spent two years on Mr. Kenny’s forum and it got us nowhere; we have a CCTV system that doesn’t work and when it did it wasn’t monitored, houses were burnt out and, others were left unsecured and burnt out, people are being encouraged to leave and are being bought out for a pittance. There was never any real consultation; we didn’t even know what was in the Master Plans until after they were published. I don’t’ think that Mr. Kenny wants to deal with any residents in a meaningful way, he has his own agenda”.
Chair of the Moyross Residents’ Alliance, Tommy Daly, voiced similar concerns.
“The MRA is the only independent residents’ group in Moyross and even though we’ve had plenty of meetings with Mr. Kenny over the past 2 years, he still won’t formally acknowledge our existence. Like the BWRA, we’ve also been threatened with no money for Moyross unless we close down the MRA and come on board with his forum. That will never happen. There are a handful of residents on the forum that go along with Mr. Kenny because they foolishly believe they’ll get something out of it for themselves; they’re representing nobody but themselves.” said Mr. Daly.
“People in regeneration areas are being blackguarded; with homeowners bought out for as little as €30,000 and turned back into tenants by Limerick City Council while the Regeneration Agency funds it all. Mr. Kenny is great at passing the buck, but he’s the one approving all this and signing the cheques. People are legally entitled to more than what is currently on offer. We’re entitled to a house for a house, like for like and deeds for deeds,” said Mr. Daly.
“And now that the money is there, residents that have been waiting years for their new regeneration homes are being threatened with Compulsory Purchase and Eviction Orders, particularly in Moyross, where residents homes are in the way of a new road and despite the fact that no replacement homes have been built as was originally promised. It’s disgraceful. Clearing the land of people and knocking their homes to make way for developers seems to be the order of the day, Kenny’s got to go.”
Suggesting a replacement for Mr. Kenny, Mr. Daly concluded, ”We need someone like Paul Foley. When Paul was Director of Regeneration for the Northside he got a lot done for the people. Much to the annoyance of Kenny – Paul wasn’t afraid to speak up for us, he was a great loss to Moyross, it’s a pity he left the job, I think he was disillusioned with the way things were going and how his hands were tied.”
The Weston Gardens Residents’ Association is also chaired by Cathal McCarthy, who said that their association formally presented Mr. Kenny with a comprehensive proposal for the regeneration of Weston Gardens, Rosbrien, as far back as December 2007.
“Entitled, ‘Renewal Integration Regeneration’, our proposal was based on everything that Mr. Kenny said was possible for our area at an earlier meeting with our Association in November 2007. We were the only residents’ group to do this, yet Mr. Kenny refused to even acknowledge receipt of our proposal. We had a total of six scheduled meetings with Mr. Brendan Kenny and his colleague, Mr. Brendan Hayden; the last one was in March 2008. He has since ignored all formal requests for further meetings, despite a statement in the master plans that said that his agency would continue to negotiate and work with us to resolve our problems. I don’t think Mr. Kenny is genuinely concerned with residents’ needs,” said Mr. McCarthy.
Mr. McCarthy said that Limerick Regeneration Watch is not opposed to regeneration, “We don’t have regeneration, the way Mr. Kenny is running things it’s little more than a state sponsored land grab”, he claimed.
The group will be going door to door with the petition in regeneration areas and holding information stalls in the City centre in the coming weeks, where members of the public will be invited to sign the petition.