Some of the caravans parked at Stereame earlier this year.

‘We’re going to have to get tough’

‘Intimidating’ encampment moves to new location in Nenagh

An encampment of around 30 caravans and motorhomes moved to a new location in Nenagh last week.

A small group set up camp at the Stereame Business Park around the start of the year, prompting local business owners to demand action from the authorities. But the encampment grew in size and remained in situ until last Wednesday night, when the vehicles moved out to the M7 interchange at Carrigatoher.

The situation was discussed at last week's meeting of Nenagh Municipal District, at which Cllr John Carroll said as many as 35 “very fancy” campervans and motorhomes were based at Stereame at one stage. He complained that potential business was lost because people would not “run the gauntlet” of visiting the area while the encampment was there.

Cllr Carroll thanked District Administrator Rosemary Joyce along with Superintendent Oliver Baker and Sergeant Niall Tobin for their work in the situation, but said there “seems to be an anomaly” between the authorities and legal service when it comes to dealing with issues like this when they arise. And he said the encampment caused a further problem by breaking into private property to set up a new camp at Carrigatoher at around 11 o’clock at night, disturbing young families in the area.

Cllr Carroll made the point that if he tried to set up accommodation for so many people and vehicles on a busy road interchange, the authorities would prevent him from a traffic safety point of view.

“These people need to be shown the red card,” Cllr Carroll said of the encampment. “They showed total contempt and disregard.”

He wanted central government to take action and provide better clarity for the council and the gardaí in dealing with such situations. He suggested that the owners of Stereame Business Park now need to take steps to prevent further arrivals of “transient groups”.

“There is no accommodation need here,” Cllr Carroll affirmed.

Cllr Séamie Morris said people in Stereame experienced “intimidation of the highest order” while the encampment was there. Those involved had illegally parked on footpaths for months and they had no toilet facilities for the entire time they were there. He had received numerous phone calls from concerned local business owners.

Cllr Morris pointed out that local representatives often draw criticism when they give out about “a certain community”, but he said those making criticisms should have visited Stereame to see for themselves what was happening.

“I'm sorry, but we cannot allow this to happen,” Cllr Morris affirmed. “We're going to have to get tough.”

He also spoke of horses being left on land that does not belong to the horse owners, which he said should not be tolerated by the authorities.

“It's time to take the gloves off on this.”

District Administrator Rosemary Joyce agreed with the previous speakers and said the encampment had been “very intimidating” for people in Stereame. While the only powers available to the local authority came under planning enforcement, the council had engaged with the gardaí and Stereame property owners about the situation.

Ms Joyce said she had asked for a cleanup of the area to take place immediately. She added that the council would be talking to the property owners about taking steps to prevent a recurrence of what happened.