‘Lives at risk’ at Bantry’s halting site

December 8th, 2021 7:10 AM

By Jackie Keogh

A caravan at the halting site burned out in minutes last month.

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FIRE and planning regulations at a halting site in Bantry are so inadequate they pose a danger to life, according to Senator Tim Lombard.

The Fine Gael senator raised the issue in the Seanad, saying that the ‘temporary’ site has been in existence for the last 25 years and ‘is an accident waiting to happen.’

He referred to the tragedy at Carrickmines in October 2015 in which 10 Travellers lost their lives when a fire broke out at that site.

On November 9th last, a caravan at the Bantry halt site caught fire and was completely burned out within minutes. The local fire service was on site within minutes and no one was injured despite the caravan being in close proximity to other caravans, as well as an oil storage tank.

Senator Lombard asked Peter Burke TD, the Minister of State for local government and planning, why the fire and safety recommendations made by the coroner – following the Carrickmines tragedy – have not been implemented in Bantry. He believes there should be a fire certification for the halting site, as per the recommendations, but because it is a ‘temporary’ it continues to be exempt.

Peter Burke said local authorities undertook a major information exercise aimed at enhancing fire safety in traveller accommodation in 2015 and 2016. But Senator Lombard said that approach was ‘not good enough when people’s lives are at risk’.

Martin Collins spokesperson for Pavee Point Traveller Centre, thanked Sen Lombard for raising the issue and said what’s needed is ‘a major refurbishment programme to upgrade sites.’

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