Damp, mouldy flats 'putting health of residents at risk'
Published 29/03/2011 | 05:00
Desperate residents whose homes are damp, mouldy and filled with the stench of raw sewage have accused council chiefs of breaching their human rights.
Nine out of 10 tenants in a Dublin flat complex are worried about their health because of the persistent damp and sewage in their homes.
According to a survey carried out by the Rialto Rights in Action Group, 45pc of adults in Dolphin House, Rialto, have trouble breathing easily and blame the bad living conditions on residents having diarrhoea, skin rashes and depression.
The group said exposure to the health risks was a blatant violation of residents' rights to adequate housing, as set out under UN law, and called on Dublin City Council and the Department of Environment to fund the flats' regeneration.
Maurice Manning, president of the Irish Human Rights Commission, urged the Government to prioritise fixing up the dilapidated 1950s flats.
"There isn't any doubt about the gravity of the situation. The living standards certainly breach internationally accepted human rights standards.
"It is also very clear the residents have done everything they can to have this remedied and so far what is happening is totally inadequate," he said.
In Linda Burnett and Karl Bowdler's ground-floor flat in the Dolphin House complex, thick black mould covers recently decorated walls.
Their three-month-old son Jayden gurgles in a rocker just feet away from the damp and mould which almost stretches the length of their sitting room.
The couple said their 11-year-old son Keaton also complains of the cold and water coming through the walls of his bedroom, while daughter Charley (8) suffers from chesty coughs.
"We are worried about our children, especially the fear of chest infections," said Ms Burnett (34), who keeps the heating on while all the windows are left open to air out the flat.
"The council installed a ventilation unit in the hallway about two months ago but there's no real difference."
A survey of 60 out of 436 flats showed that 77pc of residents live in dampness, 68pc have mould in their homes and 82pc complain of sewage and other bad smells.