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'Sick waiting' Oliver Bond residents demand immediate action to tackle dire housing conditions

'We've been brushed under the carpet so many times and it's just not good enough'

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The Oliver Bond flat complex in Dublin.

The Oliver Bond flat complex in Dublin.

The Oliver Bond flat complex in Dublin.

Residents of a Dublin South Inner City complex have demanded immediate action to address the dire housing conditions they are enduring. 

Locals living in Oliver Bond House are calling on Dublin City Council (DCC) to fast-track regeneration plans for the area which has suffered from various issues including damp conditions, rats and poor insulation.

Speaking as a new campaign, ‘We’re Sick Waiting – A Campaign for Better Housing Conditions’ was launched today, Gael Cullen of the residents association claims they've already been waiting 10 years for work to start.

"They need to start right now; they need to make Oliver Bond flats a priority. “We've been brushed under the carpet so many times and it's just not good enough.

“We need this to happen sooner rather than later and I know it can't happen overnight. But we're physically and mentally sick and tired of waiting".

Another member of the Oliver Bond Residents' Group, Lynette Lyons, said: "We are living with damp and mould that we have to wipe down weekly.

"We can't keep clothes in our wardrobes. We have to wipe down our children’s schoolbags. Most of the windows are ill-fitting, old and draughty. It’s impossible to keep the flats warm.

"Older people and children particularly are really vulnerable to the effects of the cold, damp and mould spores. It’s frustrating to see our dreams and our rights to adequate housing pushed back, year after year."

Of the roughly 1,200 people who are living in Oliver Bond House, 83 per cent say they are living with mould and damp and that nearly three quarters have poor insulation which makes it impossible to keep their homes warm.

Over 55 per cent of residents have been told by a medical practitioner that damp, mould or sewage is contributing to ill-health in their families, according to campaigners, while over one in three (35 per cent) also report sewage problems.

Over a third also report that they continue to have problems with pests, including rats, and double that number say that they do not have adequate pest and vermin refuse storage facilities.

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Residents have urged Dublin City Council (DCC) to fast-track regeneration plans for the area but claim they have been told that it will be “at least 15 years” before they can expect completion of a long-promised regeneration programme.

Ms Lyons added that residents are “realistic” and know that regeneration won’t happen immediately.

“But we just can’t be asked to wait another 15 years – until 2036 – for it to be completed. This regeneration plan was first presented eight years ago and it still hasn’t even started,” she said.

“An entire generation will be forced to live in dire, unsafe and unhealthy conditions in the meantime. Many older residents will pass away in these conditions.”

Over two-thirds are also concerned about anti-social behaviour and criminal activity in and around the complex, which, they say, is often by outsiders and is having a negative impact on young people in particular.

Last month, we reported how leading criminologist Trina O’Connor has said that a constant community garda presence is needed for the Oliver Bond flat complex to rebuild trust with residents who feel abandoned by the state.

O’Connor who is a community activist says the shocking pictures of open drug dealing at the south inner-city flats where Daniel Kinahan grew up is akin to scenes from the 1980s heroin pandemic in Dublin.

She says a multi-pronged approach is needed to take control back from the Kinahan street dealers who are intimidating locals and terrifying young children.

“Oliver Bond is a vibrant community and a small number of people, usually from outside the area, are coming in and causing a lot of this anti-social behaviour like drug dealing,” she said.

“Most of the residents are salt of the earth, the heart of Dublin. But they have had a lot of false dawns. Only recently the Taoiseach Michael Martin committed to regeneration but you can be sure that little if nothing has been done. And the people feel abandoned with a small number of run people running their estate.

"The negative impact that has on their lives and those of their children cannot be underestimated. Can you imagine how upsetting it is for children who want to go into their playground to find a young guy there selling drugs.

“The effects are very traumatic for people seeing drug dealing on their doorstep. That trauma results in damages to mental health and self-esteem. People are stigmatised by the label as being from flats and that all has negative connotations.”

Dublin City Council said the regeneration of Oliver Bond flats is a priority and that a decision on the appointment of a design team is expected shortly from the Government.

In a statement the council said that once Level 5 restrictions are lifted, a programme of short term works will resume including environmental works, painting of common areas, regularising parking and provision of centralised and secured bin enclosures.

Further work is planned with regards to improving the play facilities in the complex, it added.

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