24th March 2011
In a new book, Understanding Limerick: Social Exclusion and Change, sociologist Dr. Niamh Hourigan examines fear and feuding in disadvantaged areas of Limerick. Her research sheds light on the participation of young children in gang activities, revealing how the consistent anti-social behaviour of children between the ages 3-14 years is often used by criminal gangs to keep control over residential areas.
In an interview with RTÉ Radio One's John Murray, Dr. Hourigan stressed the urgent need for early intervention, both in Limerick and at a national level. She advises that any intervention should take place before a child reaches the age of five years. Her research also highlights the lack of positive male role models for young boys in these areas, and issues regarding the limited availability of out-of-hours social work care for children. Dr. Hourigan also outlined the ineffectiveness of prison in dealing with the underlying social problems.
Dr. Niamh Hourigan is Lecturer and Head of Graduate Studies in Sociology at University College Cork.