Mother on hunger strike in bid to move house

 

A woman hunger striking to force her local authority to move her out of a south Dublin estate plagued by antisocial behaviour was today told she would have to wait for a safe home.

Despite efforts to resolve the dispute, Tallaght woman Aisling Bent, a mother of five, began refusing food at 6am in a bid to get South Dublin County Council officials to rehouse her family.

Ms Bent (36) claims she and her children have been systematically targeted by thugs in the Glenshane Estate where they have lived for the past five years.

Her car has been stolen, another was torched, the telephone and TV wires to her house were cut and every window on the front of her house has been broken with bricks or smeared with graffiti.

Ms Bent is 21st on a housing transfer list but today dropped demands to be given a four-bedroom house and is willing to consider moving out of the area altogether.

John Quinlivan, senior housing officer, insisted the council could not treat her situation differently to any other case.

"Our policy is to deal with the perpetrators of antisocial behaviour. We want to deal with the source of the problem rather than the fallout. It's unfortunate, but she's just going to have to wait just like everyone else," he said.

Council figures revealed around 800 families are on the transfer list, with more than 200 claiming they are the victims of antisocial behaviour.

Mr Quinlivan said the main instigator of attacks on the family had yet to be identified.

Ms Bent said: "I'm doing this for the kids, they don't feel safe. I just want a safe environment for my children. If they move who we suspect, they still know where I am, and I'm worried that they'll come back," she said.

After a meeting with housing officers to try to resolve the dispute Ms Bent accused council officials of coming up with new reasons why she should not be moved out of the area immediately. "To me it's just excuse after excuse," she said.

A total of 20 families are understood to have been implicated in complaints of antisocial behaviour in the Glenshane Estate. In February around 40 complaints were received by the council against gangs drinking on the streets and disturbing families, but following efforts by housing officers the number has dropped to around two or three in the last month.

Council officials said if Ms Bent agrees to moving into a three-bedroom house, or accepts offers of housing in other areas she will be relocated quicker. Ms Bent, whose children are aged between 18 and eight, previously staged one-week protest outside the council's offices on the same issue.

PA