Cllr Joanna Byrne – Victims should not be treated as Criminals

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has demanded clarification from Louth County Council (LCC) as to what provisions they have in place to assist victims of criminal attacks on their homes.

Speaking at Monday’s monthly County Council meeting, Cllr Byrne said that “while dealing with a case last week I was advised by the homeless department of LCC that in cases of the recent petrol bomb attacks on houses , the local authority are treating these as ‘Anti-Social Behaviour’ and their policy is to ask tenants to stay with family and friends until their houses are repaired, or alternatively to surrender their tenancy.”

“Let me very clear about this” she said, “An Garda Siochana and our courts system have not found anybody guilty of these attacks as of yet and Louth County Council have not established any evidence to suggest that those targeted are anything other than victims. These people need to be treated like victims of criminal attacks and not culprits of Anti-Social Behaviour.”

“To ask anyone who has narrowly escaped these attacks with their lives intact, to surrender their tenancy is outrageous. They have been through enough trauma without being forced to relinquish their rights to a house they spent many years making a home, a house they’ve reared their children in, and a house that may be just a shell right now but you can be sure it carries its weight in invaluable memories – good , bad or indifferent.”

Cllr Byrne told the meeting that “relying on family and friends to take in these people is not always feasible, particularly in some cases that may run for a period of many months until houses are repaired. I believe there is an inconsistent approach to how these situations are currently being handled, some people being awarded emergency accommodation, some people getting re-housed and some people being offered no assistance whatsoever.”

The Chief Executive of Louth Council, Joan Martin, responded to Cllr Byrne agreeing with her and that clarification was needed. M/s Martin asked to take the issue away and meet with the Director of Service for Housing and his team and will report back to the members.