Community Co-ordinators Plan To Tackle Bad Behaviour

Residents in some of Limerick’s troubled housing estates will no longer have to turn directly to gardai in the battle against anti-social behaviour.

Under a two-year pilot scheme launched today, seven community co-ordinators will tour disadvantaged areas in four wheel drives acting as a point of contact for disgruntled residents.

And in a bid to stave off crime, disputes between neighbours and resolve social problems, they will be given radio to liaise directly with the city’s 42 community gardai and city hall.

Chief Superintendent Willie Keane, who helped push for the scheme, said the initiative was designed to improve relations with residents.

“It’s about trying to increase confidence and making these places a more comfortable place for people to live in,” he said.

“Their task really is to get through to the community and bring back new issues that might need to be addressed. We want to get into the community and these people will help cut through the bureaucracy.”

The move follows a report last week from former Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald who recommended extra gardai for the Moyross and Southill areas to try to improve the lives of residents.

And he also suggested the demolition of more than 1,000 sub-standard homes.

The co-ordinators scheme, due to begin next week, is the first of its kind in Ireland and is based on a system pioneered in England.

Working on the ground with local groups, they are asked to be visible and pro-active in building links with the young and old. They will work to encourage youths to get involved in activities, encourage a sense of pride and belonging through clean ups and graffiti removal and help vulnerable people like the elderly.

But unlike the English warden scheme, they will not have any enforcement powers with their role limited to liaising with community gardai and notifying them of anti-social behaviour.

Chief Superintendent Keane said he felt it was not necessary for the workers to be given such powers.

Limerick City Mayor Joe Leddin said they will provide vital links between residents and other agencies.

“They will engage with the youth, listen to their points of view, encourage them to take part in community activities and also help vulnerable people like the elderly by providing links for them with other services,” the mayor added.

It will run as a pilot project for two years in eight areas across the city to try to improve the day-to-day lives of hundreds of people.

The disadvantaged estates being targeted are Thomondgate, St John’s Square, Watergate and Kileely on the northside and Janesboro, Kennedy Park and Rosbrien and Johnsgate on the southside.

A council spokeswoman said the plan was to role it out in the troubled areas of Southill and Moyross if the pilot proves successful.