Community leaders have called for urgent action to prevent “mob rule” after a security hut was burned down last night on a former illegal dump site in Cork city just days after a masked and armed gang forced security staff to withdraw from the site.
Firefighters were called to the Ellis’s yard site off Spring Lane in Ballyvolane on the north side of Cork city at around 11pm last night.
A security hut used by a private security firm which had been guarding the site 24/7 was ablaze.
The fire was brought under control quickly.
Gardaí confirmed they are investigating an incident of criminal damage by fire to an outhouse or cabin at a property off Spring Lane.
“The cabin wasn't occupied at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported. Investigations are ongoing,” a garda spokesman said.
But the incident comes just days after a gang of masked men armed with bats and golf clubs threatened the security staff working at the site.
The security staff withdrew for their own safety and members of the garda’s armed regional support unit were called to the scene.
The standoff was over when they arrived.
The 24-hour security had been placed at the site in a bid to prevent illegal dumping on the council-owner which underwent an extensive cleanup of some 200-tonnes of illegally dumped waste just over two months ago
Last night’s incident has sparked renewed concerns.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Ken O’Flynn has written to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris calling for a multi-agency crack-down on those involved in the illegal dumping activity and intimidation.
He said he is concerned that people have either been intimidated into remaining silent or are afraid of intimidation from those involved.
“I believe the intervention of the Revenue Commissioners, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Gardaí needs to be considered for the well-known perpetrators in this case so that their illegal activities can be stopped and their intimidation at this site can be ended, once and for all,” he said.
“I believe that these well-known perpetrators do not fear the gardaí and have no respect for the law.
“The residents, the community and the outstanding area that I am an elected representative for should not have to tolerate this unacceptable situation for as long as they have.
“They have had enough, Cork City Council has had enough and the damage that this situation is doing to the image of the Northside of Cork City is now so grave that I fear for where this situation will now escalate to.”
Local resident and Labour local election candidate John Maher said the continued “mob behaviour” must stop now.
“The area has been cleaned up, but now security workers are being intimidated and have to be withdrawn from the site, “ he said.
“The people of the area are happy the area is cleaned up but they now want a long term plan to develop the site, community centre, sporting grounds or a place to build affordable homes are all possible ideas for the site.
“We need to make a decision on a plan for the area and in the meantime the gardaí must ensure the full rigours of law and order are implemented on the site, as this behaviour is totally unacceptable.”
Ellis’s yard, which is next to the Spring Lane halting site, is zoned for Traveller housing.
Since the area was cleared of rubbish and secured, there have been several incidents of illegal dumping on the streets nearby.