Monday 24 July 2017

Minister Alan Kelly on protest against new 'temporary' halting site for Carrickmines blaze survivors: 'It says an awful lot about Irish society and in a very disturbing way'

Residents objecting to the construction of a temporary halting site beside Rockville Drive where the Glenamuck Road blaze survivors are due to be housed Credit: Justin Farrelly
Residents objecting to the construction of a temporary halting site beside Rockville Drive where the Glenamuck Road blaze survivors are due to be housed Credit: Justin Farrelly

Robin Schiller and David Kearns

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has said he is 'disappointed' after residents protested against construction of new 'temporary' halting site for survivors of Carrickmines blaze

Local residents of a south Dublin estate today delayed the initial construction stages of a temporary halting site earmarked to house the 15 adults and children left homeless as a result of the tragic Glenamuck fire.

The Minister said this evening: "I think it says an awful lot about Irish society and in a very disturbing way."

"The nation is heartbroken about what happened last weekend, We have responsibility for communities, we have responsibility for traveller housing I have responsibility for fire services and we are very much across this issue.

The site of the proposed temporary halting site beside Rockville Drive where the Glenamuck Road blaze survivors are due to be housed Credit: Justin Farrelly
The site of the proposed temporary halting site beside Rockville Drive where the Glenamuck Road blaze survivors are due to be housed Credit: Justin Farrelly

Earlier today, Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council issued a letter to residents at around 11am this morning informing them that work was to begin on a plot of land in the Rockville Drive estate immediately to accommodate the survivors of Saturday's fire which claimed 10 lives.

The remaining family members from the deadly blaze were due to move onto the temporary site on Thursday.

The letter from the council states that the accommodation is only on a temporary basis, until the construction and refurbishment of a permanent site is completed, which is due to take eight months.

However,  residents of the estate this morning blocked the entrance to the plot of land, preventing a JCB from beginning the proposed construction work.

The letter which residents received from the Council Credit: Justin Farrelly
The letter which residents received from the Council Credit: Justin Farrelly
13/10/15. The letter which residents received from the Council Credit: Justin Farrelly

Minister Kelly said that the site was a "temporary site" and he would like  "the people behaving that way to reflect on that.".

"To get the news that this site is being blockaded and we’re trying to get this delivered for Thursday and I gave the families my word it would be delivered and the local authority would move heaven and earth to ensure these families will be accommodated, to find out that this has happened was extremely disappointing and I’m being polite in saying that.

Residents are objecting to the temporary halting site Credit: Justin Farrelly
Residents are objecting to the temporary halting site Credit: Justin Farrelly

"We have identified another site which we are working on, and the fact that we have to do that, I think it says an awful lot about Irish society and in a very disturbing way.
"Collectively our hearts go out to this family. I visited a young boy whose family has been taken away from him and to think that people have blocked the entry to this [alternative] site given what that family has gone through is very disturbing and shameful."

A peaceful stand-off ensued with residents refusing to move their vehicles which were obstructing the entrance to green field.

An aerial photograph shows the utter devastation at the scene from the halting site of the tragic fire at Glenmaluck Road, Carrickmines Credit: Justin Farrelly
An aerial photograph shows the utter devastation at the scene from the halting site of the tragic fire at Glenmaluck Road, Carrickmines Credit: Justin Farrelly

Read More: National audit of halting sites ordered after tragic blaze claimed lives of five adults and five children

Read More: Minute's silence observed for Carrickmines blaze victims at local council meeting

The Southside Traveller Action Group issued a statement saying they hoped the situation could "be resolved in the best interest of the families".

"They need to start to piece their lives back together,” said the group’s Director Geraldine Dunne.

“We want to thank the County Council and other agencies and the many local residents who have been so supportive to those affected in these difficult few days".

Read more: 'In 30 years, I've never seen this scale, this level of tragedy' - Senior fire officer on Carrickmines blaze that left 10 dead

Flames tore through a prefab at a halting site on Glenamuck Road in Carrickmines and the blaze quickly spread to a second home, leaving the victims with little chance of survival.

Tara Gilbert (27), who was four months' pregnant, died along with her partner Willie Lynch (25) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4).

Willie's sister Sylvia Connors (25) also perished along with her husband Thomas (27) and three of their children - Jim (5), Christy (2) and five-month-old Mary.

The 10th victim was Jimmy Lynch (39) - Willie and Sylvia's brother.

Read More: Dublin Fire Tragedy: 'There are 14 people now without homes who need help' says Southside Traveller group

Currently only one child, Tom Connors (4), remains in a hospital following the fire that killed two families.

“The funerals are not likely to take place before this weekend and the location of these two funerals will be in Bray and Wexford,” added The Southside Traveller Action Group.

A forensic examination of the Glenamuck halting site is ongoing and the identification of the deceased continues.

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