“We’ll block the builders”: Newbridge locals say modular homes for Ukrainians are in “wrong place” 

Local people who are opposed to the decision of Minister Roderic O’Gorman to “impose” modular homes for Ukrainians in a housing estate in Newbridge, say that they will block builders if attempts are made to ignore the concerns of local people. 

A protest was held in the area last Saturday, and locals say that the protests will continue and step up because “the people were not consulted and have had enough”.

Spokeswoman Noreen O’Shea from the LHD Action group said that Minister O’Gorman had failed to address the concerns of residents and that his department was planning on building 34 modular homes on a green area which serviced three existing estates.

She said that local people are already struggling with a lack of services, including access to schools and GPs, and a shortage of houses for “Irish people who are already homeless” in the area.

“One man who moved back here from Dublin four years ago still has to attend his Dublin GP as he can’t get into a practice here,” she said.

“And I know of a 72-year old woman who has lost her home and she and her husband are sharing spaces in a shelter with drug addicts shooting up. Instead of solving these problems, the Minister wants us to just give up the few amenities we have, and they didn’t even bother to ask us.”

“This area has huge problems with sewage and with flooding, that green is the worst place to build modular homes,” she said.

 

Last week, her fellow campaigner Tom McDonnell told Kildare Now that  “yards of houses in Dara Park do not drain out properly due to the flooding.”  He said a neighbour has had her home flooded seven times, while another said that sewage came into her yard. “I don’t think that’s acceptable in the modern world,” Mr McDonnell said.

He described the proposed modular homes for the area as a “nightmare”. “There’s no way it can be handled,” he said.

Building  the modular homes on the green area would also deprive the local community of “vital amenities”, Ms O’Shea said. “We have 700 houses between the Lakelands/Highfield/Dara Park estates and that green area services all those families. The government can’t be allowed to deprive people of a green area, and of basic amenities.”

“No-one was consulted, we’re just meant to accept this, but that’s not going to happen,” she told Gript. “Our community needs this green . It’s very busy, it has a little wildlife preserve, there are lots of kids and families playing there, it acts as a shortcut for walkers. Why should Roderic O’Gorman be allowed to just take that amenity from the community and build modular homes for Ukrainians there?”

“130 people showed up to the first meeting in The Tar [a basketball area on the green] and the overwhelming feeling was that the community felt that the government didn’t even respect us enough to ask us if we wanted this in our community,” she said.

“Everyone feels compassion for the Ukrainians, but at this stage it’s obvious that the Irish government have created a situation of their own making where  they have no room for all the refugees who have come from Ukraine because they told too many to come here,” the Kildare woman said.

“What about the Irish people? What about our right to housing and to a space for kids to play and families to walk? Why doesn’t the Minister put the modular homes in Blackrock [in Co Dublin]?”, she asked.

Last Saturday, the LHD Action group held their first protest and they said another would follow next week with a focus on local TDs and representatives. Ms O’Shea said that while Minister O’Gorman and the POW had met with the local people after the initial controversy, she felt they were not taking the concerns of local residents seriously.

Ms O’Shea described attempts to categorise such protests as “racist” as a way to “shut people up” and force them to accept an unacceptable situation.  “The government and the government’s policies are causing division,” she said.

“Newbridge is already overstretched, and Census 2022 showed a major increase in our population without the additional infrastructure and services that were needed,” she said. The preliminary results of the 2022 Census showed that Co Kildare experienced one of the highest rates of net migration in the country, as well as one of the higher rates of natural population increases.

“We have to fight to get our kids into schools already, and we gave Roderic O’Gorman a petition with hundreds of names of people who signed because they feel angry that additional houses are being imposed on our area without services or amenities,” Ms O’Shea said.

Local campaigners said they had suggested that the Curragh would be a better option for building the proposed homes for Ukrainians.

“We will block the builders if he tries to force us to accept this,” she said. “We have a community watch set up and the government won’t roll over us.” “The country is a shamble, and you are labeled a racist if you say Irish people should be put first,” she said, expressing criticism for a local Sinn Féin representative she said had told one local resident to “shut up” at a meeting.

“We’re made to feel that we can’t even mention that people are not being vetted before they are brought here,” she said. “But we won’t be bullied by people who try to smear us.”

“Local families have worked and paid taxes here all their lives  – we need to look after our own first,” she said. “We’d like to see more services for elderly people, and a sensory playground is needed for children with autism, and homes for those who are on the streets,” she said. “Instead we’re being told we have to accept modular homes being built without consultation. That’s not going to happen.”

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