I felt compelled to contribute to this thread as I live in Ballymun and I am terribly, terribly upset by what happened that young woman. I currently live in a house but I lived in the flats for 16 years.
Some of the facts about the regeneration process are:
The Regeneration Project ran out of funding almost three years ago and as such many projects have stalled in the area. There are half-built housing estates dotted throughout which are now derelict as the building contractors have gone out of business. In the case of those being re-homed from Shangan, many of the tenants were rehomed over the past few years but a substantial minority still remain to be re-housed.
They have been living in a nightmare with empty flats all around them, rising vandalism and criminality and, in this womans case, the withdrawal of essential heating for their homes.
Its worth noting that the day after this woman was found dead, the heating was turned BACK ON in the block where she lived. This woman was waiting to be homed but didnt have enough ‘points’ and was therefore way down the list of priorities. Dublin City Council’s rationale for turning off the heating was that it was costing too much to heat the block of flats because most of them were empty and the heat was simply going straight out the windows.
There is a centrally located heating system in Ballymun which heats all the flats to the same temperature. No individual has control of their heating. When you sign a tenancy agreement with DCC for a flat in Ballymun you agree to pay xx percentage on top of your rent for heating costs. So there is no question but that anyone in Ballymun gets ‘free’ heating.
I know from local knowledge that this woman was up to date with her rent payments so there is no question of her having her heating ‘cut off’ because of that.
Anyway as I said its impossible to cut off one flat from the centrally located system. The only control that the system has is to turn off the heating from the outside spine blocks inwards towards the central boiler and close down the pipes block by block. This young woman had made endless efforts to try and get the heating issue resolved. When it was clear that DCC were not going to turn the heating back on she tried to get help with alternative heating costs. There are limited alternative heating options in these flats. Gas cylinders are banned because in the past they caused explosions in the flats, risking the lives of other nearby flat dwellers. There are no fireplaces so thats not an option either. The only option was electric heaters and trying to appropriately heat a large, cold concrete box with electric heaters would have been next to impossible.
She did have an electric fan heater and used her oven to dry clothes so she was trying to do the best she could I guess. When this young woman went to sleep that night, I suggest that she would never have thought for a minute that she wouldn’t wake up. Sure she was cold – but then again many people are. I know if I was in that situation I might have thought ‘if I put enough clothes on me I will, at worst, have a bad nights sleep’. Thank God she brought her kids to her mothers home.
They must have been feeling the cold very badly during that cold snap in January 2010 when temperatures reached – 11 degrees.
As to whether she should have stayed in the flat or not – with hindsight of course she shouldn’t. Hindsight is a great thing though. Many residents of those blocks have stories of being ‘forced’ to leave their homes to stay with friends ostly because of the fear they have of living in such isolated conditions riddled with anti social behaviour.
The problem is that if you leave your home, the chances are that it will be burgled and your property either destroyed or stolen. The story in the link below is just one of a few I’m aware of. The picture of Shangan flats in the background gives you an idea of how many are empty and boarded up.
Anyway, that’s all I have to say. The Inquest has been adjourned til Feb 24th so best to leave the speculation out till then. The few things that are clear however are that she did die from hypothermia, she was a young woman with no underlying system conditions and that she has left two young children behind her.