Wednesday 23 October 2019

'It's a ticking time bomb' - flats residents call for complex to be knocked down and built again

Residents of the Marmion Court complex at the cordoned-off electric box yesterday. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Residents of the Marmion Court complex at the cordoned-off electric box yesterday. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Families who have been made homeless after a fire at a Dublin city flats complex have told how they don't know where they will be sleeping from night to night because emergency accommodation is so scarce.

A large electrical fire at 9am on Saturday knocked out the power to four blocks of flats at Marmion Court near Queen Street.

Power was restored to three of the blocks but eight families living in one block have been left without power or heat.

Mother-of-two Sheree O'Neill was put up in the nearby Maldron Hotel on Monday night, but when speaking to the Herald she did not know where she would be staying last night.

"I might not get a call until late, and there has already been attempts by someone to burgle the vacant flats so I'm worried about leaving here," she told the Herald.

The Marmion Court complex is around 50 years old but was renovated around 15 years ago. However, the residents say the complex is beset with problems and at this stage should be rebuilt.

"The fire has really put that into perspective. We were told that the blaze was close to a gas mains and if that had gone up there would have been deaths," said Antoinette Ormsby, a mother of an eight-year-old girl.

"I've been here 16 years and they just keep putting sticking plasters on the problems. It's time the council knocked the place down and started again.

"Our lights have been flashing and some of the sockets were sparking in the days before the fire. It's a ticking time-bomb, in my view.

"The place looks like an open prison. One of the lads canvassing for Christy Burke in the local elections asked him if it was an open prison."

Hard

Like Sheree, Antoinette stayed in the Maldron Hotel on Monday night but aslo said she did know where she would end up last night.

Also in the same situation was Karen Smullen, a mother-of-two.

"What makes it so hard is not knowing where you will wake up. My daughter broke down yesterday because she thinks we're homeless," she said.

Mary Kinsella (47) works in the Little Stars Creche in Marmion Court. She was born and reared there.

"There is a great community spirit here and that has not changed, but the condition of the flats has deteriorated since the refurbishment and now it is time to knock them and redevelop them," she said.

"The council erected metal stairways that have now separated all the neighbours from each other.

''They are lethal when they are wet and they are covered in pigeon dirt.

"I want to stay here. I grew up here. But the flats as they are now need to go and be rebuilt."

The Dublin City Council housing area manager Sean Smith was at Marmion Court yesterday to try and assist the residents and keep them up to date.

"On Saturday morning we thought the families could be out of their homes for up to six weeks, but now we are told it will be at least two weeks," he said.

"All of the other motor rooms have been checked out to make sure they are safe. We are trying to identify the problem that caused Saturday's fire.

"We are working on a daily basis on accommodation and the key issue is local availability.''

A local counselling service has also been set up for anyone who was affected by the trauma of the fire.

A council spokesman said there are problems with the Marmion Court complex which will have to be looked at in the future.

Herald

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