Gardaí investigate fire at disused Wicklow property earmarked for international protection applicants

A garda investigation has been launched following a fire at a disused property in Wicklow being considered for housing international protection applicants.

There have been protests at the site at River Lodge, also known as Trudder House, in Newtownmountkennedy, in recent weeks following confirmation that the Department of Integration was assessing its grounds for the housing of up to 160 people.

The department said it accepted the HSE’s offer of the vacant property and its surrounding lands as it tries to find accommodation for international protection applicants.

The house itself was in very poor repair and it is understood it is not suitable for housing.

Work on the house had stalled

However, the department said following preliminary groundworks on the site, protestors prevented access to the site and the works stalled.

Senator Pat Casey told the Seanad recently that the ground works involved crews and machinery, the removal of topsoil from an acre of ground, and the laying of membranes.

He said it looked like preparatory work rather than just assessment work, and he was critical of the department’s lack of consultation with locals.

On Friday night, fire broke out in Trudder House itself, causing extensive damage.

Investigation into the fire

Gardaí confirmed that they responded to reports of a fire at a property in Newtownmountkennedy in the early hours of Saturday morning.

In a statement, they said firefighters attended the scene and extinguished the fire.

“The scene of the incident is preserved for a technical examination. Investigations are ongoing at this time,” they said.

The Department of Integration has previously defended its communication with locals on its plans for this site and said a community engagement team had been established to engage directly with elected representatives, relevant local authorities, local development companies, and others, to improve the flow of information.



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