Gardaí have launched an investigation after a firefighter was injured during a tense standoff at a Traveller halting site.
The incident prompted renewed calls last night for the Spring Lane halting site on the northside of Cork city to be shut down.
Living conditions at the site have been described as amongst the worst in Ireland. Waste ground alongside the site has been plagued by illegal dumping for several years. It has also been the scene of several illegal fires.
Figures released by Cork City Fire Brigade reveal that fire crews have been sent to incidents at the address more than once a week for the last 12 months.
However, a source said the site has in recent months become “increasingly hostile” towards fire crews.
Fianna Fáil councillor Ken O’Flynn said strong action must now be taken to resolve a range of issues which have been linked to this site for many years.
“We have a duty of care to our firefighters, who put their lives on the line in the course of their duty every day,” he said. “Shutting this halting site down now would be in the best interests of all.”
The injured fireman is a member of a unit of Cork City Fire Brigade which was tasked to respond to a fire at the halting site on Saturday.
It is understood that residents who live overlooking the site raised the alarm just after 7pm.
One unit of the fire brigade from nearby Ballyvolane fire station was tasked. They were on the scene within seconds.
When the fire crew arrived at the entrance to the halting site, a group of individuals made attempts to block their access to the site.
A tense stand-off ensued during which it is alleged that a vehicle was driven at a large, heavy, metal gate at the site entrance, which swung violently and struck the firefighter.
Gardaí were called to the scene and a senior garda spokesman confirmed that an investigation is underway.
It is understood that a vehicle has been seized as part of the probe.
A spokesman for Cork City Fire Brigade declined to comment in detail on the incident given that a garda investigation is underway. However, he confirmed that the injured firefighter was taken to hospital for an initial assessment and is now out of work as a result of the incident.
He said that city fire crews have been called to the Spring Lane halting site 78 times in the last 12 months, and 136 times in the last two years.
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