Friday 24 January 2020

Father pleads with council to relocate his family from home built on dump

Traveller Connie Faulkner(51) at his home in the Longpavement Halting site, Limerick. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22
Traveller Connie Faulkner(51) at his home in the Longpavement Halting site, Limerick. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22

David Raleigh

A former All-Ireland handball champion has pleaded with his council to relocate him and his family away from their home, which is built on a dump.

Father-of-seven Connie Faulkner, claimed his family, and the 13 other families that live on the halting site, have been struck down with health problems because they live above hundreds of tonnes of buried waste.

Mr Faulkner said his wife Joanna died ten years ago after contracting Weils disease, spread to humans from the urine of rats and dogs and cattle.

Limerick City & County Council has pledged to find the families alternative accommodation but a source at the local authority said there was "no funding" readily available to move the clans.

A council source admitted the site was only meant to be used as a temporary residential site when the Traveller families moved in 25 years ago. The source added the site is being maintained by a caretaker.

Mr Faulkner, who won the All-Ireland handball championship for Clare in 1999 and a Munster handball title the same year, said: "I am here 21 years. I've seven kids, they're all grown up now but, this is a health hazard."

"We're going to the doctors day in and day out. I've got bronchitis and stomach problems."

Mr Faulkner added: "I'm on tablets for me nerves. I'm getting breathless all the time. This ground is full of (waste emitting) gas."

"This was the first dump for Limerick that we are living on top of. We are surrounded by dumps here. The smell of the sewage is killing us also. When we were first put in here for six months we were assured we would be getting out then. Then (the Council) built walls and little chalets in between the houses and you'd die with the cold.  There's no heating at all here. To keep our gas fires going costs €100 a week."

He added: "The time my wife passed away our youngest was only nine. She'll be ten years dead in October. It was Weils disease she died from. My doctor told me that. Her lungs and heart were perfect but it was her kidneys, she died from Weils disease. It's a health hazard to the whole lot of us."

Limerick council released an official statement: "It's not possible to provide permanent accommodation at the LP halting site."

It added: "The Council's Traveller Accommodation Plan has recommended that an alternative site be identified to facilitate the provision of permanent group housing - this is dependent on locating a site and also funding from the Dept of the Environment."

However, a source at the council said "there's no funding for it presently".

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