MITCHELSTOWN WOMAN AND DAUGHTER REHOUSED AFTER SIT-IN
The Mallow offices of Cork County Council were the location of a sit-in protest by a mother and her daughter from Mitchelstown last week.
Caroline Fitzgerald and her 9-year-old daughter, Taylor began their protest after a fire at their home in Stag Park, Mitchelstown left them homeless over nine weeks ago.
“It has been over nine weeks since the fire and, during that time, the council have not contacted me or replied to my phone calls or the letters I sent to them,” Ms Fitzgerald claimed in a statement to The Avondhu.
She also claims that her home was the subject of an arson attack and that the design of the house, which is a duplex building, is unsafe.
“There is no possible exit if there is a fire in the hallway,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
Units of the Mitchelstown Fire Brigade rescued Caroline Fitzgerald and her daughter after a fire broke out in the hallway of their home. Since the fire Ms Fitzgerald has refused to return to Stag Park.
“The house is barricaded up and I handed over the keys to the housing office as requested. We are totally dependant on the goodwill and charity of family and friends who are putting us up and feeding us. We cannot readily access the house in Stag Park to get our clothes or other necessary items. After all this the council are still taking rent from my bank account. They do not seem to care about the welfare of my child or myself and have shown us no compassion whatsoever,” Ms Fitzgerald told The Avondhu.
A spokesperson for the Housing Department in Mallow refutes the claims that they did not act quickly to resolve Ms Fitzgerald’s case, “We have made available to Ms. Fitzgerald and her daughter another home in Stag Park but this was refused. Their home was sealed up as we are awaiting the incident report from An Garda Siochana.
"I met with Ms. Fitzgerald the morning after the fire and outlined her housing options and what action the council would take. The damage to the house was in excess of €8,000 and we did offer Ms Fitzgerald alternative council accommodation.
"However, this was refused. I met with Ms. Fitzgerald and her daughter while she was conducting her protest at the council offices in Mallow and indicated to her the council’s plan. Ms Fitzgerald insisted that her requests be dealt with immediately at which time I repeated the position of the council. Another meeting was then arranged for the following day,” senior engineer, Michael Cremin told The Avondhu.
As Ms Fitzgerald and her daughter continued their sit-in at the council offices in Mallow, gardai arrived on the scene and informed her that if she remained in the offices after 5pm she would be trespassing and would be removed.
“All I want is to be rehoused in a safe home for my daughter,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
Later that day she met with council officials and agreed to call off her protest and meet with housing officials the following day in an attempt to reach a solution to the problem.
“At this stage I feel that I am being discriminated against on health grounds and for also highlighting problems in Stag Park. Do the council have any compassion or feeling for the welfare of my nine-year-old daughter who had a traumatic experience?” Ms. Fitzgerald said.
At a meeting the following day (Friday, March 12), Caroline Fitzgerald agreed to be rehoused in another duplex in Stag Park.
“This is only a temporary measure. I have been assured that I will be rehoused in a different estate and not in a duplex. In the meantime the council have agreed to seal the letterbox, which will give my daughter and myself some security. I am relived that we will have a roof over our heads but I hope the council will stick to their agreement and rehouse us out of Stag Park sooner rather that later.
"I would say that the support of my parents, my FAS supervisor, Christy Roche and Taylor’s school principal has been invaluable over the last weeks,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
Concluding Mr Cremin said, “Cork County Council is satisfied that it has done all it can to accommodate Ms Fitzgerald in this matter.”
Friday 19th March 8:41am