herald

Thursday 21 March 2019

Thugs torch house for homeless

€40k digger, new home and cabin burnt out in vandals’ terror campaign against builders on social housing site

The St Cuthbert's Park site in Clondalkin
The St Cuthbert's Park site in Clondalkin

Vandals have caused damage estimated at tens of thousands of euro in a campaign of violence and intimidation at a social housing construction site.

The St Cuthbert's Park site in Bawnogue, west Dublin, had to be shut down for a period of time last month following reports of aggression and antisocial behaviour.

SISK, the contractors for South Dublin County Council, left the site for a number of days after workers were threatened and the site was repeatedly targeted by vandals.

While the site has now reopened and the construction of more than 60 two- and three-bedroom homes has resumed, the criminal damage is continuing.

Reported

The Herald's exclusive photographs show a digger valued at €40,000, an unfinished house, and a cabin used by the contractors which were burned out in two separate incidents last week.

It is unclear why the site is being targeted.

A garda spokeswoman confirmed the incidents were reported and are now under investigation.

"Gardai are investigating an incident of criminal damage which occurred shortly after midnight on December 1 at a building site at St Cuthbert's Park, Clondalkin," she said.

"JCB machinery was damaged by fire in the incident. There have been no arrests and investigations are ongoing.

"Gardai from Clondalkin also attended the scene of an incident at St Cuthbert's Park, Clondalkin, at about 4am on Friday, December 7. A cabin was set alight.

Fire damage inside one of the housing units at the Clondalkin site
Fire damage inside one of the housing units at the Clondalkin site

"No arrests have been made and investigations are continuing."

The much-needed social homes are to be owned by South Dublin County Council, and are being built on a corner of St Cuthbert's Park which was previously green space.

A worker at the site yesterday said that they were shocked at the level of criminal damage, and confirmed that the intimidation is continuing.

There is now a big security presence at the site, which is surrounded by high fencing and monitored by CCTV cameras.

"This shouldn't be happening in 21st-century Dublin. The houses are badly needed in the community and the workers are just doing their jobs," said one worker.

South Dublin County Council said it continues to liaise with the contractors at the site, as well as the local community and relevant agencies, including gardai, to ensure the timely delivery of much needed social homes in the area.

A digger valued at €40,000 and a cabin were burned out at the St Cuthbert’s Park site
A digger valued at €40,000 and a cabin were burned out at the St Cuthbert’s Park site

Sinn Fein housing spokesperson and local TD Eoin O Broin said Bawnogue is "a wonderful place with wonderful people, and unfortunately the lives of so many here are being negatively affected by the bad behaviour of a few."

South Dublin County Council mayor Mark Ward said that the anti-social activity had been a symptom of a problem of under-resourcing by the council and gardai in the past.

Patrols

"The council has now put CCTV into the park and removed hedging where anti-social activity was occurring, and the gardai have more patrols," he said.

"So I hope that the last spate of damage is the dying embers of what was going on and that the situation will improve."

SISK would not comment on the matter of the attacks when approached, but work continued at the site.

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