Fire destroys Co Galway house purchased by council for Traveller family
Gardaí investigating cause of blaze at four-bedroom property
The cause of the fire has not yet been established and gardaí said they are keeping an open mind on it. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Gardaí in Galway are investigating a fire which extensively damaged a house which had been recently purchased to accommodate a Traveller family.
The fire at the house in Kiltulla was discovered shortly before 5am on Monday.
Galway City Council paid €388,000 for the four-bedroom property in March, with refurbishment expected to take the overall cost to around €430,000.
The move was opposed by local residents and also by some councillors who voiced concern about the city authority purchasing a house in a Galway County Council area.
The cause of the fire has not yet been established and gardaí at Mill Street said they are keeping an open mind on it.
Former city mayor, Cllr Niall McNeilis, said there is concern that the fire might have been started deliberately to prevent the Traveller family moving in.
“If this is arson then it is 100 steps backwards for society,” he said.
Another former city mayor, Cllr Noel Larkin, said there had been tension in the area since the house was purchased for the Traveller family.
“We need to find a solution to our housing problem, we have 3,700 on our housing list.
“But I don’t think the solution is buying a house in an area without consulting with the locals,” he said.
The Traveller family who were due to move into a house are said to be devastated but Galway City Council has told them the house will be restored and allocated to them.
The family currently live in a rat-infested site at Carrowbrowne off the Headford Road.