Two houses burned in attack on Traveller complex

 

Two houses were destroyed in the latest attack on Traveller accommodation in Co Clare.

Two houses in the Ashline development on the outskirts of Ennis, which were unoccupied at the time, were set alight late on Friday night. One of the houses was gutted by the fire.

The remaining four houses in the development had been boarded up by the local authority, having been targets in previous attacks.

Alarm raised

The alarm was raised shortly before midnight when the fire service received a report of a house on fire. On arrival at the scene crews discovered two buildings ablaze.

The Ashline scheme was built at a cost of €1.7 million and was first occupied in 1998. Several arson attacks have taken place at the site since then, culminating in the development’s closure last November.

The scene was sealed off pending completion of a technical examination on Saturday. Gardaí are investigating the incident.

Last December, €80,000 worth of damage was caused to three units in a double arson attack at the nearby Beech Park development.

That site was completed in 2004 at a cost of €2.2 million and originally comprised six units. One was demolished following an arson attack in 2010. The council spent €51,000 on refurbishing other units.

‘Intimidation and threats’

The council confirmed it had been experiencing difficulty letting the units because of “intimidation and threats within the Traveller community”.

The two sites at Ashline and Beech Park accounted for 11 per cent of all Traveller-specific accommodation in Co Clare before their closure.

Independent councillor and former TD James Breen had called for the houses to be refurbished but made available to members of the settled community.

“Given the ongoing intimidation and refusal of Travellers to move into these beautiful homes, it’s time the council let these units to members of the settled community who have been on the housing list for several years,” he said.

A spokesman for Traveller support group Pavee Point said: “Pavee Point does not condone antisocial behaviour of any kind and we believe that people who engage in this should be brought to account.”