Residents of a south Tipperary housing estate were left “traumatised” after men brandishing machetes, slash hooks and baseball bats arrived in a number of cars looking for a person they claimed was in one of the estate’s houses, a council meeting was told on Monday.
Fianna Fail Cllr Roger Kennedy recounted the incident that occurred nearly two weeks ago at Tipperary County Council’s monthly meeting and reminded council officials that local councillors previously raised concerns with the housing section about the suitability of a particular family allocated a house in that estate.
He said the incident affected the whole estate which had a lot of elderly residents who lived there since the 1970s. “They were all traumatised by it,” he added.
A Cahir Garda Station spokesman confirmed gardaí were aware of an alleged incident of this nature in Cashel but are not investigating it as they haven’t received any formal complaint and didn’t witnessed it.
Cllr Kennedy highlighted the incident as the elected council considered and approved the draft Housing Allocation Policy at the monthly meeting.
He pointed to section 2.78 of the policy dealing with the allocation of houses and how applicants were to be allocated housing according to their suitability for an estate.
He argued in situations where councillors explained to the council that a family was not suitable for an estate on a long term basis then the local authority should take cogisance of that.
“There is no point putting that article into the regulations and then proceeding to ignore it,” he declared.
Cllrs David Dunne and Mary Hanna Hourigan supported his comments and highlighted cases of problem tenants they in their own districts.
Cllr David Dunne spoke of how residents of a small residential area in Carrick-on-Suir were living in fear because of two tenants moved into their area.
He complained the housing support service was only available Monday to Friday but many of the incidents happened at weekends.
He echoed Cllr Kennedy’s plea to council management to listen to and take on board the views of councillors who raised concerns when housing applicants were being allocated a home.
“We are on the ground and we know what will work in certain areas. We are not dictating to officials but nine times out of ten the knowledge we have on the ground will be advantageous to the council about where they put people.”
Cllr Hourigan said she was “astounded” when a particular woman was housed by the council in an estate. Since she moved in she had caused a lot or trouble.
There was issues with noise at night and dogs in a shed and the problems were continuing. This woman had previously been thrown out of two private rented houses.
Cllr Michael Fitzgerald argued the council should be able to decide to take a tenant out of an estate if they were “not playing ball”.
He described what happened in the incident Cllr Kennedy highlighted as “thuggery of the highest order”.
The Council’s Director of Housing Services Sinead Carr said she respected the fact that a lot of councillors contacted her about who was suitable and not suitable for estates.
She pointed out that many people told her where people should not go but she rarely got ideas of where they should go. They had to be housed somewhere and it was the council’s responsibility to do that.
“At the end of the day decisions have to be made and people have to be accommodated.”
She pointed out that the council had a number of prosecutions relating to anti-social behaviour in estates pending before the courts that have been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Taking a case to court was the last resort and she noted that quite often these prosecutions resulted in the tenant remaining in a house but with strict conditions imposed. This had worked in the past.
Ms Carr said it had been difficult to engage actively with tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic but the council was getting going with this work again.
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