Thursday 19 April 2018

Homes 'too little, too late' for survivors of fire that killed 11

The vandalised memorial near the ‘Tig Mo Chroi’ halting site
The vandalised memorial near the ‘Tig Mo Chroi’ halting site

Ian Begley

Survivors of the Carrickmines fire disaster have moved back to the same location where their loved ones perished nearly two years ago.

The new, state-of-the-art halting site, complete with fire walls, was provided by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for 11 people, including two orphaned children.

However, Kathleen McDonagh, a sister of one of the victims, said the council should have allocated permanent structures years ago.

"I don't care that they've built these houses, they can have them back if they want because they are no good to us now," she said. "What good is a house to you when 11 members of your family are gone?

"If they gave me a house and it was full of gold, it would be no good to me, because it is not bringing my family back."

Since the 2015 inferno, the families had been living in a council-owned car park in Ballyogan, a site which they said lacked basic services.

"We were housed in a car park for two years," added Ms McDonagh.

Five adults and five children perished in the Carrickmines blaze on October 10, 2015.

Willie Lynch (25) and Tara Gilbert (27) died alongside their daughters Kelsey and Jodie. Ms Gilbert was four months pregnant.

Thomas Connors (27) and his wife Sylvia (25) and their children Jim (5), Christy (2) and six-month-old Mary also lost their lives in the fire.

A brother of Mr Lynch, Jimmy (39), also died.

The fire began in the kitchen and spread quickly, engulfing the entire unit.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said the new development was delivered following a public consultation process.

"Temporary accommodation was provided for the family in Ballyogan," said a spokesperson.

"Within nine weeks, permanent grouped housing at Glendruid was offered to the family but their preference was to remain in the immediate Carrickmines/Glenamuck area.

"A site in Glenamuck was identified and discussed in detail with the family and the location of this site was agreeable to the family."

Meanwhile, local groups have expressed their "disgust" over the apparent destruction of a statue commemorating the Carrickmines victims.

The statue of the Virgin Mary, erected just metres from where the fire occurred, was recently found broken in several places. The apparent act of vandalism was noticed by Labour Party councillor Peter O'Brien.

"If it was really vandalised then I'm just lost for words - it's appalling. It's disrespectful not just for the residents, but for the victims of the fire," he said.

Jim O'Brien of the Bray Travellers Community Development Group told the Irish Independent that it should be treated as a criminal offence, if it is proven to have been deliberate.

Irish Independent

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