An illegal encampment in Ennis has been vacated with pressure mounted by elected representatives and residents in recent weeks over the health and safety concerns associated with the site.
Located near the Castle Rock estate on the Tulla Rd, the encampment was vacated on Tuesday night. It was the subject of a cross-party debate at a meeting of Clare County Council earlier this week.
For the second week in a row, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) brought the matter to the attention of Clare County Council. Speaking at Monday’s adjourned meeting of the local authority, he detailed that the site was an environmental, traffic and COVD-19 hazard. “Residents are concerned the illegal encampment is breaking all guidelines on social distancing,” Flynn stated. He said that a collective decision was made to only send three representatives of the residents to the public gallery at the meeting but that over 100 residents wanted action as the location was becoming “filthy”.
Mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) highlighted that the site on which they were on is privately owned and may be a matter for the HSE as opposed to Clare County Council. She commented, “I have spoke to people who have witnessed people at the encampment going to the toilet in broad daylight”. She described the encampment as appalling and said as of Monday evening no reports had been made to Gardaí. “It is wrong and horrible that ye have to go through this,” she said to residents.
A visit to the Castle Rock Estate was paid by Cllr Mark Nestor (FF) on Sunday evening. “The photos are very distressing. This is a private site, how did they get in? I can’t imagine they just rocked up with what they have. Are the private landowners facilitating this type of behaviour,” he questioned.
Ennis “seems to be a town that draws in Travellers wherever they are going,” Cllr Ann Norton (IND) remarked. Cllr Pat Daly (FF) called for a meeting of An Garda Síochána, the HSE, Clare County Council and the landowner “to get rid of these people”. Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) stated that the behaviour could not be tolerated.
Personnel living in illegal encampments must be monitored to see if they have social housing, Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) maintained. Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) noted it is “a situation around the county. It has become very pertinent during COVID-19. It needs a multi-agency approach. It has potential to become an enormous problem if it is not dealt with”.
Speaking on behalf of the Council, Noeleen Fitzgerald said the matter was a trespass issue. “Clare County Council wouldn’t have any right on the site,” she commented.