Cork grandad forced to live in 'rat-infested' caravan
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Simon Quilligan, 53, is desperate to get his family to a new home as they’ve been battling the cold and are struggling to survive in the horrific conditions. He lives with five of his 16 children at the site, which also has no toilet facility, and the family uses a dilapidated caravan specifically for rubbish.
Simon was taken to hospital recently after he was bitten by a rat at the site, which is behind an industrial estate in Cork, Ireland.
The grandad, whose wife Peggy died in 2014, wants more help from Cork County Council.
Simon told CorkBeo: “I can’t bring any of my grandkids up here as it’s too dangerous, and we feel like because we’re hiding away at the back here we get forgotten about.
“There’s no heater, we’re freezing through the night and can hear the rats scratching around. We’d love to plug in a Christmas tree – we haven’t even had one for about eight years.
“The council have been down, but there’s been no updates and we’ve no idea if we’re going to get out of here.”
But Simon fears he’s large family will be split up.
He added: “I don’t want us to separate. They’ve been through so much since losing their mother and now we just need somewhere to go.
“We’re washing with cold water, we can’t clean our clothes properly, we’ve no toilets, and the rats are getting in.”
The widower has praised his neighbours over a wall for offering support in recent weeks.
I can’t bring any of my grandkids up here as it’s too dangerous
Amy Hyland, community development officer for the East Cork Traveller Project, described the situation as “quite bad and getting worse”.
She said: “One of the saddest things is that this is the story for a lot of people. We link in with families on a daily basis and there’s a widespread problem.
“It’s hidden, not many people realise how bad it is.
“We only have one person who we link in with the council, the Traveller Liaison Officer, and they’re the only one we know can get stuff done, but you come across challenges constantly.
“Even when it comes to private rented accommodation there’s a lot of discrimination against traveller families. These families face a massive battle.
“Liaising with the council can be a slow process, although their one officer works really hard and does her best she has to cover so many families across the whole county.
“They’re human and they deserve the same treatment as anyone else. I’d ask landlords out there who’ve got accommodation to make it available.”
A council spokesperson said: “Cork County Council does not comment on individual cases.
“Any person can apply for social housing supports. If they are deemed eligible and have a housing need, then they may qualify for social housing supports.
“If qualified there are a number of different options available. Qualified applicants can avail of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
“Cork County Council has a ‘Place Finder’ service and Tenancy Sustainment Officers who will assist applicants in this process.”
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