CORK City Fire Brigade will need armed garda support when attending to incidents in the Spring Lane area after a firefighter was injured by pelted rocks while carrying out his duties, it has been warned.
A unit from Anglesea Street Cork City Fire Brigade attended the scene of a small rubbish fire at the entrance to the Spring Lane halting site — adjacent to a former illegal dump at Ellis’s Yard — on Monday night at approximately 9.30pm.
The crew was forced to retreat after pieces of rubble were thrown at them, with one sustaining injuries to his leg. He was taken to hospital and treated for pain.
The fire truck was also mounted by a youth at the scene.
Later on, at approximately 11.40pm, a second unit from Ballyvolane attended another incident at the same location.
The attack on the fire service came in the wake of high tension in the area related to an illegal dumping operation on the council-owned Ellis’s Yard site, next to the Spring Lane Traveller halting site, and just over three months after a private security firm hired by Cork City Council to guard Ellis’s Yard was forced to leave for their own safety after being threatened by an armed masked gang.
The site was the subject of a €53,000 clean-up by Cork City Council contractors in February with City Hall erecting security fencing and mounting CCTV to combat fly-tippers.
More than 4,500kgs of asbestos and 200,000kgs of domestic waste were removed in a week-long operation.
Traveller groups have been outspoken about overcrowding in the Spring Lane halting site with almost 40 families living in a space designed for 10. City Hall is currently preparing its Traveller Accommodation Programme which is set to be published in the coming weeks.
Ballyvolane resident and city councillor John Maher (LAB) has called on the gardaí to provide armed support to Cork City Fire Brigade attending the Spring Lane site.
“Firefighters are being harassed while carrying out their work and the gardaí need to massively step up. I would suggest the Cork City Fire Brigade should not go to the Spring Lane area again unless the Armed Support Unit (ASU) is with them,” Mr Maher told The Echo.
“There is CCTV there, so how are people not being caught?
“This is happening over and over again and creating headlines but nothing is changing. It’s residents that are suffering. I am one. People are intimidated and afraid, this is the reality,” Mr Maher added.
Several fly-tipping prosecutions have been pursued by Cork City Council after evidence was uncovered by cleansing staff in dumped bags in the last few months.
It is understood CCTV in the area has also identified registration plates of dumpers and these have been passed to the authorities.
Councillor Ken O’Flynn (FF) has claimed he has received death threats due to his speaking out about violence and dumping in the area.
Cork City Council has not yet responded to a request for comment from The Echo.
Cork City Fire Brigade has described the attacks as “unacceptable.”