Fears that some holiday home owners ‘coming for weekend’

January 27th, 2021 10:05 PM

By Jackie Keogh

An empty playground in Skibbereen. There are fears locally that holiday home owners are not following HSE guidelines to stay in their primary residence. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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HOLIDAY home usage in West Cork remains high despite the fact that the country is in the middle of a Level 5 lockdown with 5km travel restrictions.

That’s according to some locals in Tragumna and Schull who complained that holiday homes and second homes are being used despite the Covid-19 requirements to stay at home and to restrict movements to within 5km of home.

Of the 400 fines issued by the gardaí for non-essential travel as part of Operation Fanacht, 37 of these were issued in West Cork in the first week since the fines were introduced on January 11th.

One man in Tragumna said he has seen situations where people ‘come for the weekend but return to the city during the working week.’

‘This level of selfishness and irresponsibility is galling,’ he said. ‘Some of these people are professionals and should know better.’

Of even greater concern, he added, ‘is the usage of holiday homes for short-term lets.’ He believes his allegations to be ‘true’ because the people staying in the houses are ‘complete strangers to the area, and are, on occasion, complete strangers to the country.’

He suggested: ‘There is no evidence, by some, of self-isolation, which is frustrating because local people are making such a great effort.’ The man believes: ‘Gardaí are doing a good job on the main roads but to see instances, such as the holiday lets, they would have to be patrolling all areas, which is probably unrealistic.’

There have been complaints, too, in Schull about the level of movement in and out of the locality, and of work being carried out to holiday homes during the lockdown.

However, one local businessman said he has not noticed ‘anyone out of the ordinary.’ He said there are people about who don’t live here all year around, but they have been here for a time. ‘There was a big influx during the first lockdown but they came and stayed, which they are entitled to do.’

Any recent additions, he added, have been in the village since Christmas. ‘They came and haven’t gone home.’

The businessman acknowledged that people are worried ‘yet there are still a lot of cars on the road and people are continuing to work, even though some question whether it is essential or not.’

One of the on-the-spot fines issued in West Cork  was to a man from Westmeath after he was stopped in Nohoval, a distance of 250km from his home.

Bantry-based Supt Ronan Kenneally reminded people: ‘If a person’s primary residence is in Cork city, they have no business being in holiday homes in Schull, Tragumna, Barleycove or any other location in West Cork.’

He said: ‘The gardaí have come across various excuses, such as essential maintenance, but people need to know that they will be turned back. People can expect to be challenged if they are outside their 5km zone.’

Chief Supt Con Cadogan said some of the 37 fines were in relation to people at beaches, such as Garrettstown and Long Strand, while the others were stopped at garda checkpoints. He said one man from Kerry – who was heading to Skibbereen – was issued with a fine because he had no valid reason for travelling. He also had no tax and no NCT and his car was seized.

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