A Traveller advocacy group has blamed members of the Travelling community for dumping a caravan on an illegal dump site - adjoining an overcrowded halting site - as a massive clean-up nears completion.
The Traveller Visibility Group (TVG) said those responsible for rolling the old caravan down a steep embankment at Ellis’s yard on the northside of Cork city, are either living in, or known to the residents of, the sprawling Spring Lane halting site next door.
And it has urged residents who can identify those responsible to pass any potential evidence on to the authorities.
“Let’s call a spade a spade. It was someone from the (halting) site who put it there,” TVG chairperson, Breda O’Donoghue, said.
“TVG would never stand over or condone illegal dumping from anyone. We don’t know exactly who’s responsible for this incident, but it’s as plain as day that if there’s a caravan dumped on Ellis’s yard, somebody on Spring Lane must know who did it or put it there.
“It’s worrying because it won’t be the person who put it there gets the blame - it’s all the people who live on the site. It’s all of the families, that’s the difficulty.
“It’s difficult to identify who’s responsible for incidents like this. But I’d be worried that all the families who live on the halting site will feel the brunt of this even more.”
Cork City Council hired Loftus Demolition and Recycling to clean up the council-owned Ellis’s yard. The contractors moved on site last Thursday and have removed an estimated 200-tonnes of rubbish, including five tonnes of asbestos, which were dumped on the site over the last 18-months or so.
Roy Loftus said they hope to be finished the clean up by Friday. Among the materials removed were a burned out car, two abandoned caravan chassis, a range of household white goods and furniture, and two sets of golf clubs.
They had been working to clear rubbish from a steep embankment on Tuesday and had installed temporary fencing to secure the area overnight.
But when they arrived for work on today, the fencing had been removed and a caravan had rolled down the embankment.
TVG, which represents Travellers city-wide, has been campaigning for improved accommodation and conditions on the adjoining Spring Lane halting site for several years.
But Ms O’Donoghue said incidents like this, especially during the clean-up, is very disheartening for advocates.
“There is a very diverse group living on Spring Lane, between 35 and 40 families. There are lots of very genuine families who are as against illegal dumping as anyone,” she said.
“This kind of stuff sets us back. We take five steps forward and this pushes us back 10 steps.
“I’m more concerned for families who really want to improve conditions on the site. They don’t want to live next to a dump.
“They need to stand up and take responsibility for the area they live in.
“They need to make the right decisions on what they want to do with the information.
“If people know who it is, I would urge them to give that information to the authorities so the right action can be taken, to prohibit this from going on.”
FF Cllr Ken O’Flynn said council workers, who sifted through some of the rubbish, have identified six names and addresses and consideration is now being given to potential prosecution.
A draft of the new Traveller accommodation plan could be ready by the end of the month.
TVG will be pushing for Ellis’s yard, which is zoned for Traveller accommodation, to be used to alleviate overcrowding on the halting site.
However, it is understood that city officials are working on another plan for the site to deliver a wider community and sporting gain.