Elderly 'frightened' by demands to give up their homes
Published 24/08/2010 | 05:00
ELDERLY people living in a rural coastal village are being unduly frightened by demands to surrender their homes, it was claimed last night.
An unknown number of residents in the Sligo village of Rosses Point, have been sent letters stating that they were "wrongfully in possession" of property belonging to the Middleton Estate.
Concerns grew at the weekend when a Church of England vicar, Guy Chave-Cox and his wife, Heather, who has previously claimed to represent the Middleton Estate, visited the village and posted notices on disputed properties and land.
A year ago, similar signs were erected on properties around the old part of the seaside village, 8km north-west of Sligo town.
Sligo county councillor Jude Devins yesterday called on the Middleton Estate shareholders not to make direct approaches to vulnerable people.
"We are talking here about people who have lived in these homes for years and who have raised their children here.
"I have been contacted by a number of people who are extremely worried.
"It is deeply unfair that they are being frightened like this. If these people want to communicate a message, it would be better if they would come in and speak with representatives of the community," he said.
One woman who received a legal letter stating she was wrongfully in possession of property belonging to the Middleton Estate said she was prepared to go to court.
The woman, who does not wish to be identified, said many of those who received letters were not in a financial position to do likewise.
"I believe I have rights and I will just have to go to court to prove it -- but there are people who don't have the money that would take," she said.
"We are talking about elderly, retired people who would not have that kind of money."
She added she knew of one case of an elderly couple who were both ill and were very upset at having received a letter.
"This has come as a complete shock. . . and everyone is raging. They think it's an absolute disgrace. There is uproar in the village," she added.
The Middleton family once owned most 400 acres on the Rosses Point peninsula. In the 1970s, local people moved to track down the descendants -- scattered as far away as Australia and Africa -- to buy out the ground rent for nominal sums. But a minority of people were not involved in that deal.