Dad-of-16 Simon Quilligan lives with five of his children on the site in Cork, Ireland, where they have no toilet facilities, water or heating with temperatures getting close to freezing this weekend
A widowed grandad who is living with his children in a rat-infested caravan with no electricity, water, or heating has pleaded with his council for support.
Simon Quilligan, 53, lives with five of his 16 grown-up offspring in terrible conditions in the run up to Christmas, report CorkBeo.
He is desperate to get his family to a new home in Cork, Ireland, as temperatures begin the plummet.
They have no toilet facilities and say they have not heard back from Cork County Council about being re-homed.
Simon says things are so bad that there’s vermin – and he refuses to allow his grandchildren into the caravan. But he says he and the children he lives would should be able to stay together.
He said: “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.
“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.”
Community Development Officer for the East Cork Traveller Project Amy Hyland has been liaising with the family over the past few months.
She described the situation as “quite bad and getting worse”.
She said it’s not just Simon’s family either, and that it’s one of Ireland’s biggest hidden problems.
“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.
“But even with that we need landlords who are willing to house and support traveller families on top of the council.
“I see lots of people get to the point where they’re approved for HAP but then even with that can’t get accommodation, I was a year-and-a-half trying to help one girl get somewhere and it was all down to the simple fact that landlords were ignoring her once they realised she was a traveller.
“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 Cork County 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.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.