A MAN has been left homeless after his house was gutted in an arson attack hours after he kissed the girlfriend of the suspected arsonist on New Year's night.
John Keane (47) says he has no option but to sleep in his Ford Transit van outside Roxboro Garda Station in Limerick after his Southill home was destroyed in a firebombing last weekend.
The suspected culprit has been arrested and questioned by gardai. He is a Limerick man aged in his 30s.
Mr Keane said his privately owned home of seven years in O'Malley Park was destroyed following a brief kiss with the girlfriend of the suspected arsonist on New Years' Eve.
"It was only a New Year's kiss and he got jealous over it. What's the problem? Sure it's all only a bit of fun -- what more is there to it. This is what he did after I kissed her," Mr Keane said.
"What a lovely start to the New Year -- no home. Can you imagine what he would have done if it went further?"
Mr Keane said he was drinking in the controversial shebeen in Southill on New Year's Eve. The proprietor of the shebeen has been prosecuted twice for failing to comply with a local authority enforcement order to close the illegal pub.
"I was in the shebeen at twelve bells and at 4am my place was up in flames," Mr Keane said.
The three-bedroom home was destroyed by flames.
"I got up there around 4.10am and it was blazing. There were two or three fire brigades there.
"There wasn't a shoelace left. I have nothing -- everything went up with it. I have no insurance and am not working, so I don't have a bob. My home was my castle and it's gone."
His 2004 registered van was taken by gardai for safe keeping to Roxboro Garda Station and he slept in it in recent nights with a coat acting as a blanket.
"My friends have been good to me. Paddy Mac gave me a jumper, Brendan Mac gave me a pants and Johnny Nash gave me socks and shoes," he said.
The suspected arsonist was questioned by officers from Roxboro Garda Station following the firebombing.
A file on the incident is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Originally from the Garryowen area of the city, Mr Keane said he was yesterday beginning a hunger strike until Limerick City Council provided him with alternative accommodation.
"I went down to Limerick City Council and I got nothing out of them.
"O'Malley Park is supposed to be an area designated for regeneration -- why aren't the regeneration agencies helping me out? They will want my place one day.
"I'm an Irish citizen and I have rights. I have been left without a home.
"I can't afford this. I haven't worked for years -- there is no work in this town for anyone," Mr Keane said.