‘It is becoming a living hell’: residents of Dublin housing complex protest against anti-social behaviour

Tenants of a Clúid Housing complex want physical security presence to be restored to Killarney Court homes due to trespassing and intimidation

The threat of a person being seriously injured or killed due to violent harassment has scores of older residents in a Dublin housing project living on their nerves.

Killarney Court, on Buckingham Street near Connolly Station, and run by Clúid Housing, is in the heart of the north inner city.

It is a complex full of camaraderie as residents help and look out for each other, but now concerns over their security are causing “their physical and mental health to decline, and what was once such a special, happy living space is now becoming a living hell”, says resident Audrey Clail.

Clail, along with numerous other residents, believes a day-long protest at the development on Friday highlighting their fear of intimidation and acts of vandalism in the complex is the only way to get Clúid to reinstate a physical security presence.

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Security patrols ended in September 2022 after a vote indicated many younger residents did not want them because of the cost. However, residents are now agreed security should be reinstated as vandalism and physical intimidation have “multiplied tenfold”, according to a petition organised by Clail.

“There are so many age groups of boys from about 10 to 16, 16 to 20 and older now getting in through a security gate, which closes so slowly that 100 people could get into the complex in one go,” says Clail.

“When they get into the complex they run amok in the courtyard, get in through inner doors, have broken windows, destroyed the communal area and broken a library door. In the past they have banged on apartment doors terrifying us with all sorts of verbal abuse, with numerous residents placing chairs underneath the handles of their doors to try to stop them getting in. One man who is almost 90 had water thrown over him, which left him terrified. Others have had all types of food hitting them.”

Clail says this has been happening day and night, meaning residents are intimidated to go outside their doors on their own.

Security must be provided at Killarney Court, as antisocial behaviour and threats have been going on for too long

—  Independent councillor Christy Burke

“We’ve gone into the communal lounge on numerous occasions and boys, youths and men of all ages have been in there, drinking, taking drugs, eating or doing whatever. I used to go down there alone trying to get them out but I won’t go down there alone now. All of us are in fear that one of us will be seriously injured or killed or else we’ll find one of the youths dead from an overdose inside the communal areas.”

The three-storey complex is home to 102 people, with younger families and single people in one area and older residents in another.

The older residents are aged up to almost 90 years, and some are wheelchair users.

Many have been living in the complex for up to 20 years. Among them is Paddy Hansard (78), who was violently attacked in Ballybough almost four years ago. The attack left him in hospital for several months.

“I came here for quietness in my life after everything and I’m so grateful to be here, but the intimidation is really not nice,” says Hansard.

Independent councillor for the area Christy Burke, a candidate again in the upcoming local elections, has been pushing for security to be reinstated since it ceased. “Security must be provided at Killarney Court, as antisocial behaviour and threats have been going on for too long.”

The cost of security was €10.50 a week per resident, with the balance paid by Clúid, an independent charity working to deliver and manage homes for those in need of housing throughout the country.

Karin Ahlers (73), who has lived alone in the complex for six years, is originally from Hamburg, Germany. She moved to Ireland 20 years ago after her husband died because her son was living here.

We are willing to pay whatever it takes to put a physical presence here to mind us

—  Brian Carroll, resident

Over the May bank holiday, Ahlers was threatened by “two young guys that they would rape and sexually assault me”. They said they knew where she lived. “My son won’t even bring my grandson in here to see me as he’s afraid of what might happen.

“We all love our apartments and the light- and garden-filled courtyard, where we did feel safe – until two years ago.”

Brian Carroll (80) was visibly upset when he spoke about the situation. “All we want is physical security to frighten away the young fellas getting in here. It’s no good telling us CCTV is installed, or Clúid reps have apps on their phones watching the complex – that doesn’t stop [trespassers from] intimidating us and getting in here.

“We are willing to pay whatever it takes to put a physical presence here to mind us. Clúid meet us and tell us it’s difficult to get security, and that they are in negotiations with companies... but that can’t be taking two years.”

In a statement, Clúid said it took the safety and security of all residents very seriously. “We liaise regularly with An Garda Síochána, co-operating with them on many areas, including the provision of CCTV footage. We also maintain a log of any incidents of antisocial behaviour.

“We are aware of incidents of antisocial behaviour in our scheme in Killarney Court, Dublin 1, including incidents of trespassing. We have not received any reports of violence or assault occurring in 2024. As far as we are aware, no such incidents have been reported to An Garda Síochána.”

Clúid added it had also installed enhanced security mechanisms at the entrance to the Killarney Court development. It regularly reminds residents to ensure doors are securely closed and that no unauthorised people have followed them in.

However, the residents dispute the claim Clúid has not received any complaints this year of assault and incidents. Clail, who has an inventory of violent and intimidating occurrences for this year alone, says residents have made “50 complaints”.

“We have also contacted Mountjoy and Store Street Garda stations, who do carry out patrols when they can and get here when there is violence, as do Clúid representatives, but it’s always after any incident has occurred.”

In a statement, gardaí said they were aware of security issues at Killarney Court and were proactively patrolling and monitoring the area.

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