MAJOR concerns have been raised over illegal encampments across the county following a recent ‘massive’ gathering of caravans adjacent to the M18 motorway on the outskirts of Ennis and Clarecastle.
At Monday’s monthly meeting of Clare County Council, Clarecastle councillor, Paul Murphy (FG) expressed his fear with regards to the ‘risk of life’ in the event of a fire due to the high volume of motor homes in such close proximity to each other.
According to Cllr Murphy, the “ongoing problem” is a regular occurrence across the county, especially in Ennis.
“There was a massive one that only cleared out there last Thursday,” the elected member said in reference to an ‘unauthorised encampment’ which he visited last week adjacent to the N85 and Clare Abbey.
“I counted 35 caravans,” he said. “To witness some of the dumping there was unbelievable. There is going to be one hell of a cleanup”.
Making reference to the Carrickmines fire that killed ten people at a halting site in County Dublin four years ago, Mr Murphy urged Clare County Council to clarify their position with regards to such encampments in a bid to tackle health and safety issues.
The local councillor also raised the issue of fire personnel not being unable to attend a fire due to the volume of caravans in such tight areas, the ‘risk to life’ this brings about, and the large quantity of gas cylinders which further increase the possibility of a fire.
The non-attendance at school of children such sites was observed by Cllr Murphy as was their close surroundings to a motorway and a dual carriageway.
“You then have the situation of kids so close to a busy road,” he said.
“These are all massive, massive issues that we cannot ignore.
“It is a minefield down there. I will be pushing it with the guards.
“It is something that needs to be challenged and challenged fast before something goes seriously wrong,” he added.
In response, Clare County Council confirmed that it availed of all of its statutory rights to remove the encampment in Ennis, whilst verifying that the local authority’s gardening department entered the site on Monday in a bid to restore the site to its former condition.