Clare County Council has reopened a traveller accommodation development at a cost of €130,000, two years after it was closed following repeated arson attacks.
St Enda’s Park, located at Beechpark on the outskirts of Ennis, was closed in February 2013 when two houses were destroyed despite the council spending €3,000 a week on security at the site.
Between 2010 and 2013, a total of nine housing units within traveller group schemes in Ennis were completely destroyed by arson. The figure represented 14% of all of the group scheme units constructed in the county by the authority.
In December 2012, a double arson attack resulted in €80,000 worth damage after the council had already spent €51,000 on refurbishment works following another attack in 2010.
The Beechpark scheme was completed in 2004 at a cost of €2.2m and originally consisted of 6 units. Only five units now exist after one was destroyed in the 2010 arson attack. Three of the remaing five were also targeted in separate incidents with one being completely gutted.
In November 2012, another Ennis development was closed following an arson attack on a fourth unit there. That the 6-house Ashline was built at a cost of €1.7m and was first occupied in 1998.
The Council said at the time that it would explore its options in relation to the repair or refurbishment of those units however in February 2013 the authority closed both the Beechpark and Ashline developments.
Now, after €130,000 was spent on refurbishing homes at the Beechpark site, traveller families have moved into three of the units.
A spokesman said: “Three homes at St. Enda’s Park at Beechpark have been refurbished in recent months. All three units are now occupied. Two bays also have been refurbished and are presently vacant and are available for letting when a suitable housing need is identified.”
“The cost of refurbishment works at Beechpark is €130,000 which was part-funded by insurance,” the council added.
“Clare County Council is responsible for implementation of the provisions of the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, under which Traveller Specific accommodation is provided in a number of locations around Clare,” the authority said.
Security at the Beechpark site, where the council had spent €3,000 a week for two years, is now monitored by a CCTV system.
The council has said: “There are protocols in place governing the use of CCTV in public places. These are adhered to here and in other Clare County Council installations.”