One of the youngest members of the notorious Heaphy family, which has established links to drug dealing in Cork, said her name is preventing her and her children from finding a home.
Jennifer Heaphy, who has been living in emergency accommodation for the last three years, has made the public plea for a home for the sake of her two daughters, Lexi, 6, and Kelsey, 3 but admits she's likely to face a public backlash.
The 29-year-old was jailed for six years - with half the sentence suspended - after she was found with €70,000 worth of cocaine in 2014. She said she agreed to the job because she needed money for a deposit to rent her first home.
She has considered changing her surname to her mother’s maiden name to bypass the baggage that comes with the ‘Heaphy’ tag.
“I never thought about tomorrow before I had kids,” Ms Heaphy said. “I never thought about anyone else. But now all I think about is them and their future.
“They ask me all the time, ‘when are we getting a new house mum?’ It’s heart-breaking.
“I’ve been looking for a home for the past three years and I’m desperate. I’ve rang loads of places, I’ve asked the Lord Mayor and TDs for help.”
Ms Heaphy had her family’s bags packed to move into an apartment this year but she believes the landlord backed out when they heard her surname.
“We were all excited to move to a place recently but it fell through when they heard the family name. It’s very hard and it means that I’m lying to the kids, telling them that we’re moving to our own place when we’re really not."
She feels her previous convictions and her name “are being used against” her in the search to find a home.
“I made mistakes when I was young but my children are my priority now,” now she said.
“I’ve never been in trouble since. I know I’ll probably get a lot of negativity for this, people saying, ‘oh that woman was locked up for drugs.’ But I did what I did and I served my time.
"I’m just hoping that there are good people out there who might help us.”
Ms Heaphy and her young daughters have been living in one hotel room in Cork for the past three years without kitchen access and no space for the girls to play.
“For the last three years all I’ve had is a kettle," she said.
“My youngest child doesn’t know anything else but being in a hotel. I keep telling them, you’ll have your own room soon, we’ll have a house like your friends’ but it’s not happening.
“My children need somewhere to play. Three of us are living in one room. Most of our stuff is in boxes. I just want them to have a garden and some space to play."
She said it’s been a particularly tough year for her and her family after her father, John Heaphy, died while serving a 10-year sentence for dealing heroin.
“My dad died of cancer a few months ago. The cancer just ate him away,” she said.
"It’s been really hard dealing with that Now, I just hope we get some place to live.
“I’m not the only one out there with drug convictions. Everyone has a past.”