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Clean-up appeal amid Covid fears from illegal Ennis encampment

RESIDENTS of an Ennis housing estate are appealing for help from the council in clearing a significant amount of human waste and litter left behind after an encampment that sprang up on a vacant site beside their homes, earlier this month.

While a number of caravans left the site beside Castle Rock on the Tulla Road last Tuesday evening, there are still concerns about the hazard posed by the waste, in terms of Covid-19. The area is also expected to be visited in the coming days by judges from the Tidy Towns, prompting further frustration among local residents.

Councillor Johnny Flynn who raised the residents’ concerns at a meeting of Clare County Council welcomed the decision of those involved in the encampment to move, and the intervention of Gardaí, said a significant public health issue remains.

“Often, we find ourselves incurring a major costs after an illegal encampment,” he said. “In this case, there is a major public health concern in light of the pandemic. I would be hopeful that the multiagency taskforce which involves the HSE and the council would have a role in this and I would anticipate that a specialist contractor would need to be deployed.”

A member of the Castle Rock Resident’s Association told The Champion that they had had to witness people squatting in front of them, using an area at the edge of the site as a toilet. “There is no running water and the situation is completely unsanitary,” a spokesperson said. “There is a great community here and residents have been looking out for each other during the lockdown. Health and safety is a huge issue.”

Following the dispersal of the encampment, the spokesperson thanked the authorities for their intervention and appealed for support in the clean-up.

“I would particularly like to see the boundary area leading to the river cleaned up,” the representative said. “There is an awful lot of waste left behind and rubbish is flowing down into the river. I would certainly welcome a multi-agency approach, because there will be implications for health and the environment.”

Earlier this week, a delegation from Castle Rock on the Tulla Road attended the council meeting where representatives of the Ennis district pleaded with the executive to act on their behalf.

“The area in question includes a place where flood relief has been done along the river and it is now littered with toilet waste,” outlined Councillor Johnny Flynn. “It’s very upsetting for residents. There are people of a range of ages living in the estate and a great sense of community spirit. People have been very careful during lockdown and the encampment breaches all public health guidelines.”

Cathaoirleach, Councillor Mary Howard told residents she was very supportive of their situation. “I have spoken to people who’ve said they are witnessing going to the toilet in front of them,” she said. “It’s in appropriate, wrong and horrible. This is a privately owned site, and while there may not be a role for the council, there is a role for the Health Service Executive (HSE).”

Councillor Ann Norton noted that those in the encampment seemed to have chosen the location for a holiday. “These people seem to be travelling around to whatever sites they like on their holidays,” the Independent member said. “The situation across Clare must be looked at,” she remarked. “It is not acceptable anywhere. The law cannot be broken just because you are from an ethic minority.”

“You and I would be evicted if we behaved like this,” Councillor Pat Daly contended. “Ennis does seem to have a long-running problem.”

Councillor Paul Murphy agreed there was an issue with encampments around the town in areas including Ashline and Kiloo. “There are encampments across the town and it can’t be tolerated,” he said.

 

About Fiona McGarry

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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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