Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The green field site at the rear of Carrigbrook and Willow Park which is being assessed for modular housing for refugees

A POSSIBLE modular home site off the Tullow Road in Carlow would set the area back 20 years, according to locals.

A field at the back of the Carrigbrook estate is currently being assessed by the OPW for rapid response modular homes for Ukrainians.

The Nationalist spoke to a number of Carrigbrook residents who oppose the development, saying it would have a negative impact on the local community. The proposal was described by one resident as an effective “halting site for refugees”. The field is located right across from the front doors of residents, with a fence being the only boundary.

While there has been no confirmation that the site is suitable, locals suspect a decision is set in stone that modular homes will be moved in.

“(Local councillors) know it’s going ahead and there is nothing to be done,” said resident Billy Whelan.

There has been no engagement with residents yet, although the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has said that if a site is deemed suitable, it will enter engagement with “councillors and officials of local authorities, service providers, community groups and so forth”. Local county councillors have already been briefed about the project.

Mr Whelan and others who spoke to ***The Nationalist*** had a variety of concerns, including the lack of vetting of refugees and the shared belief that it would not just be Ukrainians housed there. Mr Whelan and other residents repeatedly stressed that they were not racist and that their concerns were genuine.

“You do not know where they are coming from,” said another resident, who did not wish to be named. “We all got vetted before we moved in here … how are you going to let your kids out there?”

Other issues include that Carrigbrook remains unfinished and still has construction traffic. The area is arguably the most densely populated part of Carlow but there is currently only one entrance from the assessment site on to the N80, which is past Carrigbrook, Willow Park and The Laurels. There have been some rumours that a new entrance on to the N80 would be created, but Mr Whelan was skeptical of this, noting that it took two years just to get public lighting in the estate.

Speaking after the attack on workers carrying out assessment works at the field yesterday (Monday), the residents said they could not condone the actions. It’s not something they wanted to see. However, they believed it foreshadowed what could come to pass.

“The first (modular homes) will be burnt down,” believed Mr Whelan.

“Someone is going to get hurt,” said another resident.

Mr Whelan spoke of the positive steps that Tullow Road had taken in recent years, such as the work of the Tullow Community Development Group and the proposed new Tullow Road Community Centre. Residents spoke of the close, almost old-fashioned, sense of community in the area.

“We love the Tullow Road, but now they want to set it back 20 years,” said Mr Whelan.

The residents who spoke to The Nationalist said they were going to take part in a ‘Carlow Says No’ protest on Wednesday, but specifically to protest against the Tullow Road site. They said they do not want to be drawn into a wider protest against housing Ukrainians nationally, or other issues.

One resident said they would leave the protest if there was a hint of trouble at it.

“We are not protesting against them staying in Waterford or Kilkenny, but this area,” said Mr Whelan. “The rest of the country can look after themselves.”

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