DUBLIN: Deplorable Slum Conditions In Dolphin House Flats Complex ‘Breach UN Law’: Survey: UPDATED

28 Mar

Nearly 45% of residents in Dublin’s Dolphin House complex have health problems as a result of damp and sewage in their homes, according to a survey.

 Dolphin House - 42% of children have breathing difficulties
 Dolphin House – 42% of children have breathing difficulties

Nearly 45% of residents in Dublin’s Dolphin House complex have health problems as a result of damp and sewage in their homes, according to a survey.

The study carried out by a local action group found 45% of adults and 42% of children have breathing difficulties.

Residents also complained of diarrhoea, skin rashes and depression as a result of the conditions, which include the presence of fungus in flats.

The survey was conducted by Rialto Rights in Action, which says the situation is a breach of human rights under UN law.

The group says this is the third survey to be carried out since May 2010.

It says no senior Dublin City Council official has attended resident meetings in the past five months despite repeated requests.

Minister for Housing and Planning Willie Penrose said today that he will be raising the matter with Dublin City Council.

The council has said it is preparing a master plan for regeneration for the estate, which currently contains 436 housing units.

NEWS UPDATE:

Survey finds presence of damp and sewage in homes is leading to ill health among families, write RONAN McGREEVY and KITTY HOLLAND in THE IRISH TIMES: 

THE HUMAN rights of the residents of one of the largest local authority estates in the State “are clearly being breached”, the president of the Irish Human Rights Commission has said.

Dr Maurice Manning was responding to a survey carried out in the Dolphin House complex in south inner city Dublin, which found 45 per cent of adults and 42 per cent of children living there had respiratory problems.

Some 90 per cent of the adults surveyed by a community organisation, Rialto Rights in Action, were worried about their health because of the presence of damp and sewage in their homes.

In addition to the survey research, key indicators have been monitored by residents, and samples of mould and mildew gathered for examination.

Analysis carried out by NUI Maynooth’s biology department has shown the presence of Aspergillus fumigatus, which can cause pulmonary disease in humans, most notably asthma and bronchitis.

Of those residents surveyed, three-quarters say they are living with damp, 64 per cent report mould in their homes and 84 per cent report that sewage comes up through their sinks and baths.

Dolphin House, which has 425 apartments, is one of the biggest and most dilapidated local authority housing projects.

It was to be the subject of a regeneration scheme to be completed after work at St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore was finished, but plans have been put on hold.

Mother-of-two Sinead Martin (29) says she, her partner Paul Dempsey (32) and their two children, Noel (8) and Aaron (4,) have all been suffering from respiratory problems since they moved into their two-bedroom apartment in Dolphin House three and a half years ago.

“I’m on two inhalers, my kids are on one each and my partner needs a nasal spray,” she said. “I’m terrified that my eldest fellow is missing out on so much school because of the dampness here.”

The findings of the survey and the analysis were presented at a seminar in Dublin yesterday.

Dr Manning said he was impressed at the manner in which residents had addressed their living conditions.

“There has been no rancour at these meetings. There’s been anger, which is entirely understandable.

“But you have gone about stating your case in a scientific and systematised way. The evidence you have gathered overwhelmingly supports your case.

“There is the International Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which sets out certain economic and social rights as human rights which the State is obliged to uphold, and which, looking at this case, Ireland is clearly in breach of, in its failure to tackle these issues and bring housing standards up to an acceptable standard.”

Lorna Fox O’Mahony, professor of law at Durham University in Britain and specialist in property and home law, said the link between poor housing and poor health had been established in the 19th century and remained as relevant today.

She said there was no absolute right to housing, but each State committed itself to the progressive realisation of adequate housing, and the Rialto residents were exercising their right to demand adequate housing.

Though invited to the discussion, no representative of Dublin City Council attended yesterday’s event.

NEWS UPDATE:

A WOMAN and her three young children are being forced to leave their mould-infested home by night and sleep elsewhere due to health concerns linked to the condition of the flat.

Slattery, 30, who lives in Dolphin House, Rialto, spoke to the Irish Examiner about the constant worry she lives with as her flat is covered in black mould which she feels could be damaging her children’s health.

She and her three children, aged eight, five, and 10 months, have taken to sleeping in one bedroom at her mother’s house nearby.

Ms Slattery is one of many residents of Dolphin’s House estate who are campaigning for better living conditions.

They say that the daily health risk is a blatant violation of their right to adequate housing and called for a commitment from the Department of Environment to fund its regeneration.

A study, published yesterday at a human rights monitoring hearing in Rialto, showed that 45% of adults and 42% of children living in the Dublin estate have trouble breathing easily and more than 90% are worried about their health.

Residents reported diarrhoea and skin rashes; with some saying depression is also a consequence of living in a cold, damp smelly flat.

“I have had the flat for eight and a half years now, and I’d say I was in it six months it when the problem first began. There was very bad dampness with white fluffy mould growing through the wall. The council came and treated it and re-wallpapered.”

Ms Slattery maintains, however, that in the past two years, it has “come back with a vengeance,” but the council have not been back.

“There is black mould around the windows even though they are PVC.

“The walls in the bedroom are black, the wallpaper is peeling off, and even my mattress is black and green and mouldy.”

Because of this, she says she doesn’t feel safe sleeping at the flat. “We stay in my sister’s room. She is away at college but she is back next month so I don’t know what we will do then. You are breathing it in all time, the kids were sick at the weekend — they were vomiting — I don’t know if it’s related but I am afraid it might be.”

As well as the mould, there is a rusty, leaking, waste pipe in the bathroom.

“Other people’s waste runs down the pipe, it is just a trickle, but you can smell it. The pipe needs to be replaced; I have been waiting two years for that to happen. It is very stressful; my five-year-old asked me is she sick because of the mould. I was reared in these flats, and I just want somewhere safe and healthy to bring up my kids.”

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said it is working with the residents to resolve maintenance issues. He said there is a monthly meeting between council representatives and the local maintenance group at which such matters and other issues are discussed.

A spokesman for the Department of Environment said it has yet to receive a proposal from Dublin City Council with regards to Dolphin House.

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