‘Drugs, sex, dumping, squatters and rats’

Sinead and Paul Quinn bought a duplex apartment in the infamous block 12, but abandoned it three years ago after their toddler fell into an open manhole.

Sinead and Paul Quinn bought a duplex apartment in the infamous block 12, but abandoned it three years ago after their toddler fell into an open manhole.

“One morning I was going to work, Ellie was standing beside the car as I was loading it up, in a split second she wandered off, I found her with her leg stuck in an open manhole. Her other leg had bent up, otherwise she would have been in up to her nose,” she said.

The couple had “become numb” to living in the troubled estate.

“We had got used to seeing syringes on the ground. My husband patrolled the apartments last thing at night, locking doors. We thought maybe in six months or a year people would move in and it would improve, but it went from bad to worse,” she said.

Her sister now stays in the apartment.

“I was afraid it would fall to rack and ruin if it was empty. They are living in the middle of all that madness. Our apartment on the inside is beautiful but the estate as a whole is completely disgusting,” said Sinead, a primary school teacher.

She lists some horrors.

“All the copper piping was taken which led to flooding in our apartment. People sit on the kerb using drugs, leaving syringes. Young people come in drunk at night to the apartments, there are condoms all over the place. Rubbish was dumped in apartments, bringing a really bad smell and big black rats. I found two dead ones and saw them running in and out. At night my sister hears them scratching on the balcony beside mine,” she said.

Some unsuitable tenants placed by a housing agency were later evicted for vandalism and burglary.

Last Halloween her husband enlisted helpers and drilled all the doors shut, and Laos County Council cleared out rubbish.

“The doors are all open again now, it won’t be long before another squatter moves in, it’s a constant cycle and nothing is being done to stop it. I feel really hard done by, I thought I was moving into somewhere very different,” she said.

The couple live with her father but now with three children they are out of space. They can’t afford to rent as they are paying €800 monthly on their mortgage.

The had second thoughts at the start, but found they would lose their deposit.

“Looking back now I wouldn’t have cared about losing €20,000, because I would not have a €225,000 mortgage around my neck. It would break your heart,” she said.