Latest fire at former Good Shepherd site in Cork City prompts call for action

Cllr Kenneth Collins said the fire was likely due to anti-social behaviour, and that it was essential that the owners now develop it — or else that Cork City Council should take it over
Latest fire at former Good Shepherd site in Cork City prompts call for action

Crews from Cork Fire Brigade battle a fire at the former Good Shepherd Magdalene Laundry in Sunday's Well, Cork. 

The former Good Shepherd Convent site on the north side of Cork City has gone on fire, with the latest blaze prompting fresh calls for swift development or else for the local authority to take it over.

The fire erupted on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, with a number of units from Cork City Fire Brigade required to quell the fire which was visible across much of the city.

Gerry Myers, Third Officer with the Cork City Fire Brigade, said the initial call was received at 3.11am regarding the fire at the Sunday's Well site.

He said that on arrival the fire was "well alight" and that a sub-station crew and a crew from the main station were utilised, alongside a 75-foot aerial platform and a water tanker, with a backup water tanker on stand-by from Mallow station.

In all, 20 fire personnel battled the fire and a dozen were still at the site well into Sunday morning and are expected to remain until this afternoon to dampen down hot spots.

Mr Myers said the fire was particularly well developed on the eastern side of the structure and that it was likely the building was now "unstable" and that as a result, it was too dangerous for fire crews to go inside.

Local City Cllr, Kenneth Collins of Sinn Féin, said it was the fourth blaze at the site in recent years and that fires of such magnitude posed a threat not just to the integrity of the listed building, but also to homes in the local area.

Cllr Collins said the fire was likely due to anti-social behaviour, and that it was essential that the owners now develop it — or else that Cork City Council should take it over.

Developers Moneda secured planning permission through An Bord Pleanala in September 2018 for the site, with a proposal to build 234 apartments at the site.

Cllr Collins appealed to the owners to proceed with the development.

"They need to act on this, they need to either develop it or else Cork City Council need to put in a CPO [Compulsory Purchase Order] because this can't continue to happen," he said.

"It's a listed building - so many fires in a listed building, the brick won't survive it.

"It's a beautiful area of the city, a respected area, it's a building that has so much history to it."

Sinn Fein TD for Cork North Central, Thomas Gould, said it is a disgrace that Cork City Council has not taken stronger action against the owners of long-time derelict sites.

"Recently there was another fire in the old Sunset Ridge Hotel that burned to the ground and at the Vita Cortex site," he said.

"In the past, we have also had fires at the St Kevin’s site on Lee Road and at Vernon Mount.

"Local authorities have not done enough to take on the owners and speculators who are allowing this to happen.

"I have serious concerns about other sites in the city that are at risk."

Completed in 1881, the site is a former Magdalene Laundry and is also home to Little Nellie of Holy God, a girl who died aged just four in 1908 and who is venerated within the Catholic Church.

Gardai from Gurranabraher Station were also at the site this morning and Cllr Collins said: "[The fire] is definitely down to anti-social behaviour. You can access the site quite easily.

"There is houses on Blarney St and Sunday's Well and Buxton Hill quite close to the building, with gas tanks and oil tanks in back gardens.

"Something needs to happen and needs to happen immediately."

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