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fears Limerick activist says property owners in housing estate intimidated into selling by drug barons

On New Year's Day three properties were damaged in joy riding incident

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Sarah Beasley (L) and Melissa O'Donoghue (R)

Sarah Beasley (L) and Melissa O'Donoghue (R)

Sarah Beasley (L) and Melissa O'Donoghue (R)

A community activist has claimed that owners of vacant properties on a notorious Limerick housing estate are being intimidated into selling them to drug barons.

Sarah Beasley, the general secretary of the Aontú political party has made the claim following a horrific joy riding incident on New Years day that saw the walls of three different houses damaged and left the owner of one of them facing a four figure sum in repairs, and as left an elderly pensioner in fear.

The incident took place on St Munchins Road in St Marys Park, known as the Island Field and a stronghold of the Keane/Collopy gang.’

The target of the attack in which a stolen car was used was a house owned by Melissa O’Donoghue since her parents William and Phillipa passed away in 2020.

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One of the damaged walls in the estate

One of the damaged walls in the estate

One of the damaged walls in the estate

Beasley revealed: "The car basically crashed into a pensioners house damaging it pretty badly and then cannoning on to the empty house next door bouncing off that and causing damage to a third house.

"The pensioner had a lot of trees in his garden knocked down and the car ended up smashing through the front wall of Melissa’s house and landing in what is known as the parlour area.

"It was made to look like a joyriding accident but it was deliberately done and what was behind it was the fact that drug dealers had made an offer to buy the vacant house and were rebuffed, this was an attempt to scare the owners into selling to them and the house is now off the market.

"Melissa is now left to cover the cost of repairs as the council won’t do it because the house is privately owned and nobody around here has been able to get insurance cover since the place flooded in 2014, it has been deemed a flood risk ever since."

Melissa O’ Donoghue refused to comment but one source revealed she had been coming under pressure to sell.

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Another wall damaged in the joy riding incident

Another wall damaged in the joy riding incident

Another wall damaged in the joy riding incident

She said: " The way these gangs operate is they make an offer well below face value for a house and if they are refused which they rarely are the threats and intimidation start, basically if they can’t have it they make sure nobody else can either.

"It appears Melissa, who was born and reared here and would certainly know who’s who and what’s what stood up to them and said no and all of a sudden this happened, a coincidence? Not a chance.’

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"The pensioner in the first property that was hit is a 76 year old man who is now terrified as to what might happen next."

Beasley believes there is an onus on Limerick City Council to act.

She said: "The least they could do is erect metal barriers around this mans house to stop cars being able to go directly into his front garden.

"People seem to think that since Gardai stopped the Limerick drugs feud everything is rosy in the garden but this attack shows the reality is the gangs still think they run the show in certain areas."

A Garda spokesman said: "The driver has yet to be identified. Investigation in the matter are ongoing."

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