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Family who fled house in Dundalk after racist attacks fear becoming homeless

Their son has not been in school since a violent incident outside the family home last month.

download (1) A window at the family's house was smashed last month.

A FAMILY WHO fled their house in Dundalk in Co Louth last month after a series of incidents they believe were racially motivated have been unable to find new accommodation.

The mother and three of her children are currently staying in a B&B in the town. Louth County Council is assisting the family in a bid to find alternative accommodation.

Her teenage son, who has been threatened and assaulted by other boys in the area a number of times, has not returned to school since an assault at the family’s privately rented home four weeks ago.

On Friday 18 September, the boy’s mother was attacked by a group of people outside the family home, as previously reported by TheJournal.ie.

The woman told us she was hit by a baseball bat and then kicked by a number of people while on the ground.

The people who attacked the mother allegedly said they were looking for her teenage son and he jumped from a first floor window to escape, injuring his feet.

Both he and the mother, who was badly bruised and cut, were taken to hospital via ambulance, but later discharged.

download (5) The boy was taken to hospital with his injuries last month.

A few days later a brick was thrown through a window at the house, but the family were not staying there at the time.

The family do not want to return to the house for safety reasons. They have reported a number of incidents to gardaí in the last three years – such as rocks, fireworks and bananas being thrown at the house.

Homeless hub

The family initially stayed with a friend after the incident last month, but there was not enough space in the house and since last week Louth County Council has paid for the family to stay in a B&B in Dundalk.

The mother, who works part-time, said she is very worried about the family’s housing situation. She has been trying to find alternative accommodation in recent weeks but has been unable to do so to date.

She said the family may be moved to a homeless hub in Drogheda but she wants to stay in Dundalk if possible as that’s where her younger children attend school.

Kevin Meenan, a local Sinn Féin councillor, has been engaging with the family for over a year. He has been assisting the family in recent weeks as they try to source new accommodation.

“They’re in limbo at the minute, but hopefully the situation will be rectified fairly soon,” Meenan told TheJournal.ie.

He praised staff at the council’s housing section, saying they’re “working hard” to resolve the situation.

“We want to resolve the housing issue, that’s the anchor and we can work from there,” Meenan said.

A spokesperson for Louth County Council told TheJournal.ie the council “does not comment on individual cases in the media but the Housing Department does everything possible with the resources available to assist any family that finds itself without a home”.

GSOC

The mother and her eldest daughter met with representatives from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) last week to discuss the situation.

No arrests have been made to date in relation to the incident on 18 September but the garda investigation is ongoing.

The family said they are frustrated at the lack of progress in the investigation, noting they have reported a number of incidents to gardaí in the last three years.

The family said GSOC intends to discuss the situation with gardaí in Dundalk in the coming weeks.

A spokesperson for GSOC said they were not in a position to comment.

Meenan saw video footage of the assault outside the family home last month which he described as “shocking”.

He said there have been a number of fights between young men in the area but the boy in question “gets the brunt of it” and there are “racial overtones” to the situation.

He previously told us some young people in the area are trying to start rival gangs and view being in a gang as “a badge of honour”.

Meenan said youth workers and community leaders have been trying to resolve fights among young people in the last year.

‘He’s not alright’

The mother is eager her eldest son returns to school as soon as possible. Before the incident last month, he had missed months of school in the last year, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, because of fears for his safety after a number of threats and fights involving other boys at the school.

The principal of the boy’s school previously told TheJournal.ie it was the school’s policy “not to make public comment in relation to any student”, but added that the school “implements a robust anti-bullying policy”.

It is understood a case worker from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is working with the family. Efforts to enrol the boy in a new school have been unsuccessful so far.

download (4) The family have CCTV footage of people throwing items such as rocks at the house.

The mother said her son is “bright academically” and “needs to go back to school”. She said he has recovered well from his physical injuries but his mental health is “not great”.

“[He] is not alright, his mental health, his wellbeing – you’re talking to him and he’s somewhere else,” she said.

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She said she does not know why her son has been singled out but believes his skin colour is the main factor. He has regularly been called the n-word and a “black c***” and been told to “go back to your own country”. The boy was born and raised in Ireland.

TheJournal.ie has seen several messages where he and other family members have been intimated and called derogatory names:

Screenshot 2020-09-23 at 16.27.19

Screenshot 2020-09-23 at 16.27.11

Screenshot 2020-09-23 at 16.26.28

Once they secure housing, she hopes he can start seeing a psychologist.

Her own mental health has also suffered greatly in recent months, she said.

“I’m not good, I’m just trying to be strong for the children. I’m telling them we’ll be alright, even if I’m down I don’t want them to see that.”

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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