Residents in an estate in a north Cork town have spoken of their relief that six dangerous houses have finally been sealed off.
The unoccupied three-storey houses at Oakridge, at the entrance to the Dun An Oir estate in Kanturk, have major cracks, especially in the gable walls.
The damage is so severe in some of walls that a person can almost insert their whole hand.
Cork County Council had served an order on the owners requiring them to secure the properties. As a result, steel mesh fencing was erected.
The council has also demanded the owners employ a qualified structural engineer ‘to render the buildings non-dangerous’.
Many residents believe the properties will have to be demolished.
The buildings had been constructed about 10 years ago.
Samantha Van Loon, who lives just behind the houses, said they should be demolished immediately.
“Some pieces [of fascia] are falling off them. I’ve noticed in the last year that the cracks have got worse,” said Ms Van Loon, who is originally from the Netherlands and who has a two-year-old daughter.
“When we go down there, we always walk on the other side of the road. When the wind is blowing you can hear it howling through the cracks.”
Suzanne Cashman, a mother of five, said she was pleased to see the houses had been fenced off.
“There have been cracks there for several years,” said Ms Cashman. “I’d be worried they could collapse. I’m constantly telling the children to stay away from them.”
One woman, who did not wish to be named, said she had noticed cracks beginning after the very icy winter of 2010.
She said a ‘Children at Play’ sign nearby had started to slant. She had been “wondering if subsidence may be a problem as well”.
The woman said she was also concerned some children had previously accessed the houses and, until recently, had been regularly spotted playing in the gardens.
More than 50 residents of the estate recently attended a meeting organised by Fianna Fáil councillor Bernard Moynihan, who has been fighting their case to ensure something was done about the buildings.
He said those in attendance had expressed concerns about their safety.
“I have been trying to progress this matter since elected to the council in June 2014. I am trying to resolve matters for residents many of whom have huge mortgages,” said Mr Moynihan.
While pleased the houses had been secured, Mr Moynihan also demanded swift action should be taken to ensure they were made safe, irrespective of any costs.
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