Residents block plot of land set to rehouse horror fire survivors
Residents of a south-Dublin housing estate have delayed the construction of a temporary halting site to house 15 adults and children left homeless as a result of the tragic Carrickmines fire.
Dun Laoghaire/Rathdowm County Council issued a letter to residents at around 11am yesterday informing them that work was to begin on a plot of land in the Rockville Drive estate immediately to accommodate the survivors of Saturday's fire which claimed 10 lives.
The letter from the council stated that the accommodation there is being provided on a temporary basis, until the construction of a permanent site is completed. That is due to take eight months.
Around 15 residents of the estate yesterday blocked the entrance to the plot of land, preventing a JCB from commencing with the work.
A peaceful stand-off ensued with residents refusing to move their vehicles which were obstructing the entrance.
One resident, who did not wish to be named, said that the residents may be "vilified" over their objections.
"It's a catch 22 situation, we don't want them here but by expressing our view we are going to be vilified by everyone. What happened is a tragedy but there are better places to relocate the families," the she said.
The council plans to build an entrance gate, hard-standing surfacing, four mobile homes, service blocks with showers and toilets as well as connections for electricity and water.
The Southside Traveller Action Group said they hoped the situation could "be resolved in the best interest of the families".
"They need to start to piece their lives back together," said the group's director Geraldine Dunne.
Meanwhile, Environment Minister Alan Kelly said he was "incredibly disappointed and disheartened" at the residents' reaction.
"I'm very disappointed," he said. "I thought as a society we had moved on from these sort of issues and thought we would respond much better.
"The site blockaded is a temporary site, not even a permanent site. To be frank I would like the people behaving that way to reflect on that. The nation is heartbroken about what happened last weekend. I think it says an awful lot about Irish society and in a very disturbing way.
"To think that people have blocked the entry, given what that family has gone through, is very disturbing and shameful."
Tara Gilbert (27), who was four months' pregnant, died in Saturday's blaze along with her partner Willie Lynch (25) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4).
Willie's sister Sylvia Connors (25) also perished along with her husband Thomas (27) and three of their children - Jim (5), Christy (2) and five-month-old Mary. Jimmy Lynch (39), Willie and Sylvia's brother, was the 10th victim. One survivor currently remains in hospital.
Tom Connors (4) is in a serious but stable condition in Crumlin Children's Hospital.
Family members have been producing DNA samples to authorities to assist in the formal identification of the deceased.
The funerals of those who lost their lives are expected to take place in Bray, Co Wicklow, and Co Wexford, but not until next week at the earliest.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny led tributes to the victims ahead of a minute's silence in the Dail.