Gardai are investigating an arson attack on a house in Kilmacow in the early hours of Saturday morning and are ‘monitoring tensions’ in the area following the attack which has been condemned by the local authority and Green Party Spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government and Kilkenny Councillor, Malcolm Noonan.
A special incident room has been set up at Mooncoin Garda Station and gardai are appealing to the local community to come forward with information. “This man does not pose a serious problem to the gardai. We are aware that there are tensions and we are monitoring the situation. The man, who was due to move into the house has been reported for anti-social behaviour in the past which we have investigated but he has not come to significant garda attention,” a garda spokesman said.
The family had been living in a housing estate in nearby Mooncoin since the summer of 2009 and were due to move into their new home in Dunkitt, Kilmacow last weekend. Kilkenny County Council bought the three-bedroom bungalow, in the area of Dunkitt and close to the new M9 motorway, last year from the National Roads Authority and spent €110,000 refurbishing it.
In a statement condemning the attack Director of Services John McCormack said that the house had recently been refurbished to a high standard and allocated to a travelling family who had taken possession of the property on the day of the arson attack. “Thankfully there was no loss of life or injury as the property was unoccupied at the time. Apart from the substantial structural damage to the property, the family has lost most of their personal possessions, including family photographs,” he said.
Commenting on the attack, Cllr Noonan said that an incident of this nature was ‘inevitable’ given the level of resistance towards the allocation of houses for traveller families in Kilkenny. ‘This is clearly a racist attack, and is being fuelled by scaremongering within local communities. It was only a matter of time before an incident like this occurred. Racism towards travellers permeates every facet of our society and we have councillors interfering with the work of our housing staff in allocating houses to traveller families’ he said.
Cllr Noonan is calling for a full Garda investigation into the incident.” This incident however is disturbing and represents a new low in attitudes towards the most marginalized and disadvantaged people in our society” he said.