A Traveller family, including seven children aged between two months and 13 years, is calling on the County Council to immediately rehouse them after a fire in their caravan bay near Mohill destroyed their utilities hut on August 26, last.
Father of seven, Bernard McDonagh told the Leitrim Observer that his wife was up feeding their youngest child when they smelled smoke just over a week ago. When they looked outside their caravan they saw that the nearby hut, which contains the shower and toilet facilities and laundry, was on fire.
Emergency services were called and two fire units came to the scene to put out the blaze. Since then the hut has been boarded up and Mr McDonagh said that he and his wife were now at their “wits end”.
“We aren’t sleeping at night. We don’t know who lit this fire,” he said.
Mr McDonagh said that the Council had offered his family a three bedroom home in Hyde Terrace but he could not accept it because he felt this wasn’t suitable for a family of his size and he did not want to live in Mohill.
“I have told the Council that we will be happy to take a house with at least four bedrooms in Dromod, Leitrim Village, Drumsna or Carrick-on-Shannon. We just want accommodation that is suitable for our family with enough space for our children and a bit of a yard,” he said.
“We are afraid this was attempted murder,” he maintained, adding that his wife had collapsed from the stress and he was being admitted to St Columbus mental hospital as a result of the strain.
Mr McDonagh and his family picketed the offices of Leitrim County Council in 2008 in a bid to secure a Council house but Mr McDonagh said that the homes they were offered were not big enough to house his family.
Gardai have confirmed to the Leitrim Observer that they are investigating a suspicious fire at the halting site outside of Mohill town. They stressed, however that they are not investigating any attempted murder charge.
A spokesperson for Leitrim County Council told the Leitrim Observer that they are unable to comment on individual housing cases.