CORK City Council has been urged to meet residents of Spring Lane and nearby housing estates to discuss dumping activities and suspicious fires on a nearby site, which was once earmarked for Traveller accommodation.
Ellis’s Yard, adjacent to a halting site and nearby housing estate, has long been a hotbed of illegal dumping. There has been a spate of fires there in recent weeks.
City Hall faces a potential €250,000 bill for the clean-up of the illegal dumping.
City fire crews battled a massive blaze in Ellis’s Yard for several hours last Friday, one of 28 calls they attended that night.
They were called back to the site on Saturday and Sunday as several small fires broke out.
Figures show that units of Cork City Fire Brigade have been called out to Ellis’s Yard 136 times in the past two years and that more than €500,000 has been spent on major clean-ups of the area since 2003.
“Dumping and fires have been an issue at Ellis’s Yard for years,” said City Councillor Mick Nugent (SF), a member of the Traveller Accommodation Committee in City Hall.
“Whoever is behind it, it has to be addressed. Hopefully, in the short term, the council will look at clearing the site and making a plan for it to be more secure to prevent illegal dumping and fires,” he added.
“In the long term, something has to be done with the site at Ellis’s Yard.
“Whether it’s Traveller accommodation, that can be decided but it would be good for the council to sit down with nearby residents to discuss both Ellis’s Yard and the halting site at Spring Lane.”
Former South County Dublin city manager Joe Horan was asked to draw up a framework to address Traveller issues in Cork almost four years ago by the chairwoman of the Traveller Inter-agency Group in Cork and Junior Health Minister at the time, Kathleen Lynch.
In his report, which was released in 2015, Mr Horan said that recommendations laid out by residents of the nearby Spring Lane halting site should be considered.
The residents sought a combination of between 30 and 40 halting site bays and housing units in three different developments.
The families also wanted the existing 10 bays at the site to be renovated to a high standard and sought local authority housing in the area for 10 other families in the Ballyvolane area.
They also asked for the provision of two Traveller-specific accommodation schemes and singled out Ellis’s yard as an ideal location.
More than three years later, Kathleen Lynch said few of the recommendations were ever taken on board.
While several families were housed, Ms Lynch said many wanted to remain on site at Spring Lane, hampering any renovation efforts.
“There were difficulties on both sides and the committee disbanded after a lack of real engagement from those in the Travelling community,” she added.
“The plan showed the way forward, it encompassed a wide range of Traveller initiatives, from education and healthcare to accommodation.
“Now things appear to be going backwards,” said Ms Lynch.
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