THE occupants of an illegal encampment in Sixmilebridge train station car park are now using this location for their postal address, a local councillor has claimed.
Councillor Alan O’Callaghan said it is “shocking” the occupants of this encampment can use the car park as a location to receive their post.
“If I drove into Limerick Train Station and left my car overnight without paying parking charges, my car would be impounded and taken away, with a huge fine to pay to get it back. Maybe, the law needs to be changed.
The Fianna Fáil Councillor told a Joint Policing Committee meeting on Tuesday there is a lot of frustration over the length of time it is taking to remove this illegal encampment of three caravans, considering it was quickly moved out of Shannon last January.
He recalled the occupants of the encampment originally tried to move on to the car park in the Twelve O’Clock Hills, but decided to go to Sixmilebridge on January 20 when they were informed the former was a private car park that wasn’t under the jurisdiction of the local authority.
“People are not using the train station because of the encampment. People are afraid to use the train station and don’t want to park their cars.”
He recalled a punchbag was hanging up in a shelter where people waited the train recently. In addition, a touch screen for the ticketing machine was broken for a few months, which meant train users couldn’t buy a ticket to go on the train.
Following representations from Councillor O’Callaghan, Ianród Eireann initially stated they wouldn’t fix it while the encampment was still in situ, but later repaired it.
“A lot of older people like to jump on the train and go to Limerick or Galway for the day. Students will also be back using the train to go to Limerick or Galway. My own mother used to go down and park her car and go to Galway, but she will not use it now.
“It is not good enough to have an encampment there so long at this stage.
“People of Sixmilebridge feel they have been let down badly. A lot of elderly people living near the train station are fearful.”
When the train station opened about ten years ago, the Fianna Fáil Councillor said it was a huge asset to Sixmilebridge.
Stressing that the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t a crediable excuse for the lack of action, he hopes this matter isn’t adjourned when it comes before the courts.
He pointed out there are no proper sanitation or refuse facilities in the car park.
“A lot of questions need to be asked here. I can’t see why a two-metre height barrier couldn’t be put in place. Covid-19 is not an excuse here either.
Councillor O’Callaghan was supported by council chairmnan, PJ Ryan and John Crowe, who have highlighted their concerns about this issue in recent months.
Councillor Ryan recalled he and Councillor Crowe have been regularly engaging with Chief Superintendent Sean Colleran and gardaí in Sixmilebridge and Shannon to try and resolve this issue in recent months.
He said they have been informed there is a court case pending later this month, which may or may not resolve the situation.
“We have put on as much pressure as we could to try and get this situation resolved. What Councillor O’Callaghan has said is all true. This is not easily solved. Anything that has to be done, has to be done legally.
“Hopefully, there will be a resolution later this month.”
JPC chairman, Councillor John Crowe, said it was important that this issue was resolved, having made numerous representations to the relevant authorities in recent months.
Councillor Crowe pointed out the local boy scouts are due to start using their hall, which is located near the train station car park, in the near future.
Superintendent Colleran said a significant amount of effort has been made to bring this matter before the courts, which hopefully should bring a certain amount of closure.
In addition to patrolling and monitoring this area, he said that anyone who has any complaints should contact gardaí.
by Dan Danaher