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‘They stand in gangs jeering and laughing’

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READ LETTER AT MEETING  Castlebar Independent councillor, Michael Kilcoyne

Meeting hears woman ‘living in fear’ in Castlebar housing estate

Ger Flanagan

MAYO County Council should consider refusing the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to tenants who continue to engage in anti-social behaviour.
That was the view expressed by Cllr Michael Kilcoyne (Ind) at last week’s monthly meeting of the Castlebar Municipal District, where the issue of anti-social behaviour taking place in Castlebar estates was raised. The issue was also raised at a previous meeting with regard to similar problems experienced in another Castlebar estate.
Cllr Kilcoyne read a letter to the meeting that he received from a homeowner in an estate in Castlebar about serious anti-social behaviour taking place in the house next door, describing how she is living in fear.
“I am living on my own and I am afraid for my life,” Cllr Kilcoyne read from the letter. “They [neighbours] stand in gangs jeering and laughing and I feel very intimidated by them.
“When they moved in first it was at 11.30 at night. They drove through my lawn with trucks and trailers of furniture. There was 14 of them on my lawn that night. I was frightened because I didn’t know who they were and I rang the guards, who came out and asked them to repair the damage to my lawn, that was all ploughed up, but it was never done.
“The gardaí have raided the house on several occasions. When the owners of the house came, I informed them there were 14 people in the house and they didn’t want to know and didn’t care about my welfare either,” it continued.
“They light fires in the back garden at all hours night and day so I can’t hang out my washing. I can’t sleep with the noise and I’m afraid they will attack me.
“I had to fence my back garden as they were coming through the hedge and urinating and all sorts in my garden when I was away at work. There are currently nine adults and two children at present living there.”
Cllr Kilcoyne told the meeting the tenants are in receipt of the HAP payment and added that: “I’m not confirming or denying that it’s the same landlord who we had previous experiences with.”
He demanded that the council give priority to the issue and suggested refusing the HAP to tenants who don’t follow anti-social behaviour rules.
Cllr Ger Deere (FG), who raised similar issues at last month’s meeting, said this problem is going on for a long time and tenants are being allowed ‘run riot’.
He said that this behaviour is occurring in other estates too and that the council need to take action immediately before it ‘gets out of hand’.
Cllr Blackie Gavin (FF) said that there should more communication between the council, elected members and An Gardaí Síochana to tackle issues like this, while Cllr Kilcoyne said he will raise it at the next Joint Policing Committee meeting.
Head of District, Iarla Moran, told the meeting that the council does have certain powers to deal with breaches to the HAP scheme and that he will pass on the situation to the housing department of Mayo County Council.