Gardaí are investigating a fire which destroyed a house in a traveller accommodation development in Co Clare early on Sunday morning.
The blaze was reported at around 4.00am at one of six units located adjacent to the M18 motorway at junction 13 at Knockanean. The development is located just 3 kilometres from the centre of Ennis town.
Four units of the fire brigade along with gardaí and ambulances rushed to the scene and found the bungalow home well ablaze. Emergency crews quickly established there was no one in the building at the time.
A Garda spokesman said: “At the moment we are treating this fire as suspicious and the scene has been technically examined. There was no one in the house at the time and no one was injured.”
“We would ask anyone who might have been travelling along the Ennis to Tulla road or who might have joined or left the M18 motorway at junction 13 between 4.00am and 4.30am to contact us if they saw anything suspicious in the area,” the spokesman added.
Witnesses or anyone with information are asked to contact Ennis station on 065 6948100 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666111.
A spokesman for the local authority said: “Clare County Council is cooperating with An Garda Síochána who are investigating. Alternative accommodation is being provided for the occupants.”
Between 2010 and 2013, a total of nine housing units within traveller group schemes in Ennis were completely destroyed by arson. At the time, the figure represented 14% of all of the group scheme units constructed in the county by Clare County Council.
Earlier this year, the local authority reopened another traveller accommodation development in Ennis 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.
In January, after €130,000 was spent on refurbishing homes at the Beechpark site, traveller families moved into three of the units.
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 remaining five were also targeted in separate incidents with one being completely gutted.
A month earlier, 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.