Prefabs hold-up dashes hopes

by Aisling Kennedy
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TWENTY-TWO modular homes that were due to be fully constructed in Poppintree, Ballymun before Christmas will not be completed in time and it is unclear who is responsible for the delay.
This leaves several families who had hoped to be in the modular homes for Christmas in B&B’s and hotels.
Dublin City Council issued a statement this week which claimed that part of the reason for the delay was due to protests and serious threats made to workers on the construction site in Balbutcher Lane.
A protest did initially take place on Thursday November 26, three days after construction had commenced on the site but what happened after that is unclear.
The council said: “The contractor [Western Building Systems ltd from County Tyrone] informed [us] of a very serious escalation of the protest and on the night of November 26, the contractor’s security staff were threatened by persons unknown wearing balaclavas. They were told to go back to the North or their machinery would be burned out.
“Due to health and safety concerns the contractors removed staff from the site.”
The protest continued at the site on Friday, November 27 and the contractor informed the council of further threats and intimidation which included a threat that 150 protesters would turn up on the site the next day and machinery would be burnt out.
“This threat was taken very seriously and the contractor removed all staff and plant from the site on the afternoon of Friday, November 27,” said the council spokesperson.
The local authority said the situation was resolved over several days with the help of the gardai, and the contractor returned to work on the site on Thursday, December 3.
Due to adverse weather, however, work did not recommence on the site for a further four days.
“This delay was completely outside the city councils control,” said the spokesperson.
Disputing the course of these events, however, is manager Hugh Brennan of the O Cualann Co-housing Alliance, who told the Gazette that it was not initially clear who started the protest.
He did agree, however, that some of the co-operative members from O Cualann Co-housing Alliance later took part in a peaceful protest because they were dismayed when they found out that the modular houses were to be built on the site.
The co-op, which includes CTSL and Parkside co-operative groups, each paid €5,000 to apply for the current planning permission to build 40 houses on the site.
They were due to hear back from the council on whether their project plan was set to get the go-ahead or not but subsequently discovered that the 22 modular houses were to be built on the site.
Brennan explained that in the following days they met the council and it was agreed that they would support the co-op to build 50 new houses on the same site as the modular homes and there is currently a process in place to support these plans.
On the subject of threats being made at the protests, however, Brennan was clear.
He said: “All I know is that when I spoke to one of the builders on the site he said that he knew nothing about any threats being made.
“I think the building company has come out and said the same thing too, that there were no threats made.
“If there were threats made, and it sounded very serious what the council were saying, that type of thing would be reported to the gardai because it would be a criminal offence and the gardai would have to investigate it.
“And as far as I know, there is no Garda investigation.
When asked about the threats made during the protests, the gardai declined to comment.

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