Cork housing estate standoff over mobile home

Residents of a Cork housing estate have blockaded a truck in the area, and say they will not allow it to leave until they are satisfied it will remove a mobile home it delivered to their green on Thursday.

Cork housing estate standoff over mobile home

However, the family of five living in the mobile home say they will not leave until Cork County Council offers alternative accommodation.

The family — with three children aged four, two, and five months — claim they have been five years on the local authority’s waiting list.

A single garda kept watch in a nearby squad car yesterday as the residents of Beechfield Estate in Fermoy congregated by the truck, which was blocked in by a car parked behind it.

Annette Cahill, whose house backs onto the green, said householders in the estate tolerated a caravan on the site for more than two years, but their patience came to an end when the larger mobile home arrived on Thursday morning.

“We have a huge problem with that van being dropped here. We will not leave that lorry out, because if that goes, we’re fucked. There’ll be nothing done for us.”

Emma O’Driscoll and her three children, aged 4, 2 and 5 months
Emma O’Driscoll and her three children, aged 4, 2 and 5 months

Ms Cahill said tensions between the residents and the Traveller family were exacerbated when Emma O’Driscoll, the mother of three living in the caravan, spoke of the stand-off on local radio, and called on other Travellers to come to their aid.

“Because there’s two vans there now, it’s a halting site. We’re middle-aged people. We’ve children and grandchildren here, there’s three generations in all these houses here. Why should we, near our retirement age, put up with that?” Ms Cahill said.

Ms Cahill said: “Cork County Council are an absolute disgrace. An absolute disgrace.

They don’t care about us. Not two hoots. That small caravan is here two and a half years, we’ve done nothing about it, but we’re not having a halting site in our estate, end of story. It wouldn’t happen anywhere else, why should it happen here?

She said council officials, who yesterday met in County Hall on the matter, should have instead held the summit at Beechfield Estate with the residents.

Inside the home, Ms O’Driscoll and partner Jason O’Donoghue, said they chose Beechfield as they have access to water and electricity from Mr O’Donoghue’s father’s house nearby.

“We’re living out in that kip, that trailer, for two years. The windows are sellotaped to cover holes. There are holes in the floor, the children are sleeping in a pull-out bed,” she said.

She said she has been on a waiting list for accommodation for five years: “We’re there two years, going in and out to the council week after week after week, but they give us nothing, they say we’re not homeless.”

The Traveller family have spent approximately two years living in a caravan behind the house before the mobile home was delivered.
The Traveller family have spent approximately two years living in a caravan behind the house before the mobile home was delivered.

She says that months ago she told the council that if she does not get a place to rent she would place the mobile home on the site.

Mr O’Donoghue said he took out a loan for the mobile home, but would have happily lived in the smaller, original caravan, were it not for the children, the youngest of whom is aged five months and has suffered difficulty with her breathing.

“She was in and out of the doctor’s every day because she is breathing faster than normal. They say it could be over the damp trailer. Every morning we would wake up in that trailer and the quilt is drowned with water, with dampness. We’re all sleeping in the one bed in that trailer for two years.”

Ms O’Driscoll said she understands the residents’ concerns and is also critical of Cork County Council’s lack of engagement on the matter: “I do know where they’re coming from, the mobile home is big, but they have to look at it from our point of view. We’re not here to torment them.

They’re saying we’re trying to make the place a halting site; no we’re not. We’re not asking for a full halting site, we’re asking for space just to put one mobile home, nobody else, just us. Set us up with electricity and running water.

Ms O’Driscoll denies her comments on local radio were intended to heighten tensions: “I asked every Traveller in Fermoy and Mitchelstown, we’re all the one people, the O’Donoghues and McDonaghs, to come here, not for trouble, not for fighting against settled people, to come here and stand here so that if the council try to move us it’s not going to happen. That’s what I meant by that.”

Mr O’Donoghue said: “To stand our ground. They’re standing their ground, why can’t we?”

The Irish Examiner has submitted several queries to Cork County Council since Thursday. Yesterday evening it said it is “examining the options available to it in relation to resolving the issues that have arisen”.

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