Apple’s Cork works adversely affect boy with autism, mother claims

Noise from expansion works affecting wellbeing of boy with Asperger’s, mother says

A recent residents’ protest in relation to Apple’s office expansion in Cork. Sinead O’Mahony described the noise from the Apple works as “like a form of torture”.

A recent residents’ protest in relation to Apple’s office expansion in Cork. Sinead O’Mahony described the noise from the Apple works as “like a form of torture”.

 

The mother of an eight-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome who lives next to Apple’s European headquarters in Cork has spoken of her despair at the impact the noise from the company’s ongoing expansion works is having on the wellbeing of her son.

Sinead O’Mahony, who lives in the Ardcullen Estate in Hollyhill on the north side of the city, is among a group of local residents who plan to hold a protest outside the gates of Apple next Monday.

Residents insist the giant US tech firm needs to urgently respond to their concerns relating to dust, noise and potential structural damage to their properties. The expansion works have been going on for over a year and are expected to finish in early 2018.

Ms O’Mahony said her son, Adam, has been severely impacted by the ongoing works.

“He is on the autistic spectrum so it is affecting him deeply. He has sensory issues and can’t deal with the drilling. So we do anything and everything to get out of the house. You are trying to do the homework with him with the drilling and it’s hard because for Adam it is so important to create a space of calm,” she said.

Dust

Ms O’Mahony added: “Then you have all the dust. Adam comes in saying he has dust on his tracksuit. At one stage my car was outside the door undriven for two to three weeks because of car issues. When I came out it was completely covered in dust. When I put clothes on the line I end up having to re-wash them and I don’t have a dryer, so it all takes time.”

Ms O’Mahony, who is a yoga teacher, said one of the ironies of the situation was that Apple invests heavily in the mental health of its employees and has “therapists of all sorts”.

She said she had nothing against Apple personally and appreciated that the company has brought huge employment to the area. However, she feels the ongoing works are too extensive and arduous for residents.

“The work Apple brings to the area is just fantastic. But I don’t think they realise the effect [the works] are having on us. They cleaned our windows once. That’s it. It is basically the giant versus the little person. But we are real people with real stories. I suffer from chronic headaches so the noise also impacts on me in that way. You have houses [which] feel vibrations from the works. It is like a form of torture, the noise from there.”

Meanwhile, local Sinn Féin councillor Mick Nugent, who lives in the Ardcullen estate, said the most recent expansion followed on from “less intrusive” expansion works that lasted several years.

Cllr Nugent said there was a lot of “pent-up frustration” about the issue among his neighbours.

“The previous expansion lasted four to five years. You are talking noise, dust and lights. Apple did offer to paint outside the houses and they will have to pay compensation to house-owners if structural damage has occurred. They have met with residents but that level of contact was part of the planning stipulations. Apple have to abide by certain conditions. There was a protest the other day and we will be holding another protest next Monday.”

Structural surveys

Sources at Apple have indicated regarding the works that there is ongoing dialogue with residents in the area that go “above and beyond” their planning permission conditions. It is understood that Apple carried out structural surveys in relation to houses in the area and reportedly found no evidence of structural damage. Apple also are said to have made changes to its plans prior to receiving planning permission in order to meet the concerns of residents.

Apple announced 1,000 new jobs Leeside in November of 2015 increasing its workforce onsite to 6,000. The company has been based in Cork since 1980.

Local residents in Cork had lodged an appeal against the latest Apple office block expansion stressing that they would be “practically living in an industrial estate” if the project went ahead.

However, An Bord Pleanála ruled that the proposed expansion would not impact in any significant way on local properties. The planning authority also ruled that the plan was in accordance with the Cork City Development Plan.

Apple’s Irish operations serve a variety of roles, including sales support; distribution; technology support and customer care; mapping; and manufacturing. Its thousands of employees make it the largest private employer in Cork with more than €100 million invested in the city since 2009. It is understood the new office block will be fully functional by the middle of next year.