A rat disturbance in St Marys Park is causing some of its residents to move out of their homes and file complaints. The infestation of rodents is mostly in the back gardens of these residents, due to the demolition of houses by the Limerick North Side Regeneration. The complaints are being handled by Limerick City Council.
Jessica McNamara (31), of 3 St Munchins Street Court, had to move out of her home two months ago for three weeks. The then pregnant mother of six had her back garden infested with rodents, but after finding a rat in her house she felt she had to move out. “I spent three weeks in my mother’s house, with me and my six kids sleeping in a single room.”
For the three weeks Limerick Corporation sent out pest control to put down rat poison in her garden. Once she moved back in, she threw out all her infants’ possessions. She explained: “I had to throw out all her stuff; I was worried it wasn’t safe.”
The infestation of rats in people’s back yards is due to the ground disturbance and the demolition of boarded up, derelict houses. These derelict houses are known to be home to rats for over 60 years. In Ms McNamara’s case, there had been derelict houses in her area recently knocked on both sides.
Thomas Kelly is the Senior Executive Engineer, in housing demolitions, for the Regeneration project team in Limerick City Council. He said that they foresaw this problem before beginning the demolition of houses and that they recognise the presence of rats. “That is why we bait the property before demolition.”
He also added that the level of complaints they are receiving is normal, especially for this time of year. When they receive a complaint from an occupied house, the housing maintenance will investigate and carry out the necessary baiting procedure.
But in certain cases this isn’t working, with some residents having to ask for their yards to be exterminated a second time. One such woman is Mary McGrath (47), of 93 St Munchins Street. There had been derelict houses knocked across the road and directly behind her house. The family dog they kept in the back garden was killing up to 14 rats a week. She added that: “Six months ago a rat got into my roof. I could hear it in the ceiling from my kitchen”
Two months ago she had complained about her rat problem and had her back garden exterminated. Rat poison was placed along her walls, on the roof and in the boarded up house next door. However, last week she had to ask a second time, saying: “The rats had only stopped coming for a day or two. I’ve even started to buy rat poison myself”
Mr Kelly added: “part of the process is removing environments rats may inhabit, such as boarded properties, domestic waste and hedging. We are creating an environment that doesn’t attract rats and we’re cleaning up the area as we go.”
Local councillor for the area, John Gilligan, said that he was “absolutely horrified at the way things have been going.” He added that it is part and parcel of the regenerations job to control the rodents, and to have this problem under control is “way above what’s acceptable.”
Mr Gilligan explained there is a health and safety issue involved for the residents. “The rat’s urine can result in disease; they’re a major health hazard so there is something we have to do.”