Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council last October declared that the tenancy on a Sallynoggin local authority house was about to be forfeit, where the body of a man who may have been dead for a year was found on Wednesday.
Remains, believed to be those of Michael Whiston, were discovered in the house on Wednesday hours after a hand grenade had been discovered.
Gardaí suspect Mr Whiston (76), who lived alone, died during lockdown in late 2020 or early last year. Foul play in his death has been ruled out following a postmortem and conditions in his house were described by sources as “extremely poor”.
Local sources said a rat problem had recently been reported to the council, which responded by sending workers to clear out the house on Sallynoggin Road Lower.
When the council workers arrived on Wednesday morning and began clearing the house they discovered a hand grenade dating back to the War of Independence. Local residents were evacuated as the grenade was removed by Army personnel and destroyed before the area was declared safe and re-opened. When the council workers resumed clearing the property early in the afternoon they found the remains .
Mr Whiston was described as a hoarder and someone who did not mix with other members of the community. The Irish Times understands the council had tried to contact him on many occasions but received no response and last October fixed a notice to the front door of the property.
It named Michael Whiston as the tenant and said the house was regarded as vacant and would be forfeited unless he made contact with the council. However, gardaí now believe Mr Whiston was already dead inside the house at that point . Informed sources said the council workers would not have been permitted to enter the property to carry out checks as it was a private residence at the time.
Ben Simpson, who has lived close to Mr Whiston’s house all his life, said he found it difficult to recall when he had last seen his near neighbour, “[He] was a very striking figure with a long white beard and long white hair. He always wore a flannel, a kind of shirt, open up to the neck,” he said.
On Friday bunches of flowers lay against the front wall of the single storey terraced house in memory of Mr Whiston while a single bunch of daffodils had been left on the window sill.
Blackened net curtains were visible through the window and thick cobwebs could be seen between the curtains and ceiling.
Another neighbour, Aaron Wall, said he was at home at about 10.30am on Wednesday when a garda knocked and told him to leave immediately. Other gardaí called to other homes.
“They got all the neighbours out and told us to stay away. I think it was about lunch time when the cleaning crew went back in and they discovered the body,” said Mr Wall.
Mr Wall, who moved into the street last December, said he had never seen the man and he believed that neighbours had raised an alarm about a rat infestation.
Sallynoggin parish priest Fr Padraig Gleeson said he had walked past the house sometimes twice a day but he had not been in the parish long and he did not think anyone lived in the house. “If he had been a member of the community we would have missed him, we would have gone asking,” he said.
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council said “a Garda investigation is currently under way and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council will not be issuing a statement at this time”.
The Garda confirmed an investigation into all of circumstances of the discovery of the remains was being conducted to inform the inquest process.