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Saturday 3 December 2016

No new site for survivors of Carrickmines fire until July

Thomas Connors, the youngest survivor of the Carrickmines fire who lost his parents Thomas and Sylvia, two brothers Jim and Christy and his baby sister Mary.
Thomas Connors, the youngest survivor of the Carrickmines fire who lost his parents Thomas and Sylvia, two brothers Jim and Christy and his baby sister Mary.
Gardai at the scene of the blaze Picture: David Conachy
Two women outside the site

A traveller family who survived the Carrickmines fire will not be moved to their permanent home until next July.

The surviving members of the Connors family, who lost five immediate family members in the tragedy, have been living in a council-owned car park for almost a year.

Five adults, one of whom was pregnant, and five children lost their lives in the blaze at a temporary halting site on the Glenamuck Road in South Co Dublin on October 10 last year.

The victims included Thomas Connors (27), his wife Sylvia (30) and their three children, Jim (five) Christy (three), and six-month-old baby Mary.

Sylvia's brother, Willy Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27), who was pregnant at the time of the fire, her daughter Jodie Gilbert (nine), and their daughter Kelsey (four) also died in the fire.

Willy and Sylvia's brother Jimmy Lynch (39) also died.

Monday will mark a year since the devastating fire, and the council have just put a call out for builders to work on a permanent home for the surviving members of the families.

On Thursday, a tender was published by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council seeking contractors to work on a site in Glenamuck that has been earmarked for their permanent home.

While the timeline for when work will begin will depend on the company that wins the tender, it is expected that the site will be completed by next July - 21 months after the deadly fire destroyed their homes.

They now live on a site on the Ballyogan Road, which is located adjacent to a council depot. It was selected after locals objected to a planned temporary site at Rockville Drive.

Residents in the area blocked the first site identified for the families, and several days of crisis talks between the council and angry residents took place. A compromise could not be reached and the Ballyogan Road site was selected instead.

At the time, the council said it was "not ideal" for housing the surviving family members, as it "lacked access to basic services" but work was carried out to make it more suitable.

The planning process for the permanent site, off the Glenamuck Road, began last April and was passed by the council in June.

There will be room on the site for four bays for mobile homes/caravans and will include a one-storey day house for facilities such as washing.

During the public consultation process four submissions were made on the plans - two from private individuals, one from Wayside Football Club whose grounds are next door and one from the Kilternan Glenamuck Residents' Association.

A report on these submissions, seen by the Herald, summarised the concerns raised about the site during the planning process.

These included fears over policing, dumping and general upkeep of the site.

Other points raised related to the fact that the site was designated for a primary school which was "not suitable" for co-location with Traveller accommodation.

The council was also asked to ensure that only four mobile homes would be situated on the site, as the drawings indicated room for eight, according to the summary of submissions.

Noise

Concerns raised in relation to the location of the homes beside the Wayside FC grounds included the lack of a noise barrier to protect the homes on the site from noise from matches.

Floodlighting was also an issue, as was the impact it would have on the homes and potential problems with footballs being kicked into the site were also raised.

Planners said that it was "normal" planning procedure to locate homes beside sports facilities.

Another issue listed in the report prepared by planners included questions about why the site was chosen.

"Why can it not be at another location, and is this the only halting site planned for the area?" is listed in the "issues" section of the report.

Among the responses by planners was the information that this was the only site planned for Glenamuck.

To mark the first anniversary of the fire, vigils will take place in Sandyford and Bray to remember the victims. A blessing of the graves of both families will also take place.

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