Sunday 18 February 2018

Halting site where 10 lost their lives passed safety check in May

Forensic gardaí examine the burnt-out portakabin
Forensic gardaí examine the burnt-out portakabin
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The halting site at the centre of last weekend's tragedy which claimed 10 lives passed a fire safety check in May.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said the Glenamuck Road site was expanded last year to cater for an additional housing unit, and that fire extinguishers on the site had been inspected and serviced every six months. The last inspection took place just five months ago.

Officials from the Department of the Environment have told Traveller representative groups that a "concentrated programme" of risk management and fire prevention will be carried out in at-risk communities.

The Irish Traveller Movement said Traveller families living on halting sites across the country were worried about fire safety following the tragedy.

The department said that fire services across the country will be asked to conduct a risk assessment on all halting sites, which would include advising residents of possible safety issues. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has revealed that the site on Glenamuck Road was originally earmarked for a new road, but made available on a temporary basis for emergency accommodation in November 2008.

A council spokeswoman said that although the site was considered temporary, services were put in place to allow the families' portable homes and caravans to be accommodated.

"The council provided services at the site, including vehicular access, water and sewerage connections, toilet blocks, shower facilities, electricity and fire extinguishers, fire blankets and mains-powered smoke detectors in each unit," she said.

There were three portable cabins and two caravans on site. One unit had been added to the site this year, and services provided. The council also said the site was inspected on a "regular basis".

"The council routinely inspects and checks all of our halting sites on a regular basis. In line with best practice, the fire extinguishers on this site have been inspected and serviced every six months with the last such inspection and servicing taking place in May 2015," it said.

"Investigations into this tragedy are ongoing and are being carried out by an Garda Síochána and Dublin Fire Brigade."

The council has opened a book of condolences, and the flag at County Hall is flying at half-mast.

The local authority said it was working with the Southside Travellers Group to support the affected families and provide emergency accommodation.

Dublin Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh called for a national audit of halting sites nationwide.

"I've called on the city manager to carry out the audit of all our own halting sites, because we need to learn from this," she said.

Irish Independent

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