“GRAVE concerns” were raised about the safety of families living at a property in Co Carlow, which was at the centre of a High Court case last week.
Four mobile homes and an attic flat at a property in Carrickduff, Bunclody were ordered to be evacuated due to fire safety concerns following an application by Carlow County Council.
The property, which accommodated 25 people, including ten children, was the subject of an investigation after locals first alerted the planning section of the council in December. Four mobile homes had been installed by a crane at its rear.
Inspections carried out by the council’s planning enforcement section and Carlow County Fire Services found that there was no working fire detection system in an attic flat, while concern was raised over fire doors and a single escape route.
Speaking after the High Court case, a fire officer, who took part in the inspection, said: “A number of rooms, we felt, could not have been escaped from in the case of a fire. We had no option but to serve a notice at that time. The notice specified works that had to be carried out within a time period of a month.”
It was also discovered that there was a distance of just 200mm between one of the mobile homes and an adjoining property, when the minimum distance of six metres was required. Other issues included the use of portable heaters and gas cylinders at the site.
The fire officer said there were “grave concerns” in light of the number of young children who lived at the property on the Carlow/Wexford border.
A substantial amount of specified works in the notice were not carried out. Several warning letters and further inspections followed without resolution before the council made an application to the High Court last week.
Making his order, Justice Seamus Noonan said the local authority was “well justified” in coming to court, as there clearly was a “very serious risk to human life and limb”, including to children.
The owner of the property Michael James Stamp of Cashel, Bunclody consented to the High Court order, including that fire safety works be carried out.
Director of services with Carlow County Council Dan McInerney told The Nationalist that landlords should be aware of their responsibilites.
“It’s important that landlords or any companies housing people make sure that their premises are in accordance with regulations and legislations from a fire-protection view. There have been a number of high-profile cases in recent years; they should be aware of these things.”
He added: “The seriousness of this would have meant that our legal advisers would have emphasised the need to deal with it quickly in a court situation.”
It’s understood that at least some of the residents at Carrickduff are foreign nationals.
With an order for evacuation issued, Mr McInerney said Mr Stamp, as their landlord, had responsibilities to his tenants, but if residents contacted the council’s housing section, they would be assessed.