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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 21 October, 2018
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Residents at Ballymun flats concerned over heating

Following two outages in the past month, tenants at the Shangan Road flats where mother-of-two Rachel Peavoy died of hypothermia are worried as winter approaches.

File photo of a Ballymun tower.
File photo of a Ballymun tower.
Image: Photocall Ireland

AS WE HEAD towards another cold winter, residents at the flats in Ballymun are becoming increasingly worried about the quality of their buildings’ heating systems.

Some residents on the Shangan Road have told TheJournal.ie that they are concerned that temperatures will plummet in their homes over the next four months.

Fears grew over the past two weeks as Dublin City Council had to turn off the heating for two days to fix technical problems that had been observed.

The council said both of these shutdowns – on Thursday, 20 October and Thursday, 13 October – were “scheduled” and tenants were notified.

However, the incidents have raised anxiety amongst those who remain in the flats. Many people have left the buildings over the past number of years as part of the area’s regeneration plans. As a result multiple apartments lie empty and this is contributing to lower temperatures and heating difficulties.

Local TD Dessie Ellis was in contact with DCC staff following the heating outage last week.

“The maintenance has slowed down considerably,” he said after the issue was raised with his office. “Part of this is due to staff not being replaced and resources getting thinner.”

“It is not unusual, it shouldn’t be the case but it is not something that is done deliberately,” Ellis explained.

However, some residents disagree. One tenant told TheJournal.ie that many perceive the lack of upkeep at Shangan Road as an attempt to make life less hospitable in order to force the remaining residents to leave the block.

According to another of the block’s habitants, the lighting on the stairs is damaged, as are some of the elevators, which is contributing to a lesser standard of living.

De-tenanting

As families clear out of the flats, DCC has replaced the Ballymun Boiler House with plant rooms in each of the six remaining blocks.

“All heating services are provided to the re-equipped plant rooms from containerised boiler plants located in front of each block,” the council said in a statement to TheJournal.ie.

The heating at the flats is now turned on between 6am and 11pm. In severe weather conditions, the heating can be turned on to run for 24 hours a day, said the council.

Fr Peter McVerry, a social campaigner in the area, said anxiety remains following the death of Rachel Peavoy in January 2010. The 30-year-old mother of two died of hypothermia while in her council flat. A verdict of death by misadventure was returned by a Dublin coroner earlier this year.

Fr McVerry, who lived at a flat adjacent to Ms Peavoy, told TheJournal.ie that he believes the council have learnt from her death.

“I have no concerns about the heating this year,” he said. “The incidents this month were out of the control of the DCC and residents were informed.”

However, he conceded that the heating service will not be as good as it traditionally was because of the amount of empty spaces in the blocks.

There are still a substantial number of residents at the Shangan Road flats as some choose to remain in their homes during the regeneration of the blocks.

The council have made offers of flats in a different location to those residents who are waiting for their new houses, which are being delivered as part of the regeneration plans. However, some occupants have been waiting for up to four years to be moved.

The long wait for new homes is understandably increasing people’s anxiety, concluded Ellis.

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