Belfast Telegraph

Damp city flats stink of sewage

Desperate residents whose homes are damp, mouldy and filled with the stench of raw sewage have accused council chiefs of breaching their human rights.

According to a survey carried out by the Rialto Rights in Action Group, 45% of adults in Dolphin House, Rialto, Dublin have trouble breathing easily and blame the bad living conditions on residents having diarrhoea, skin rashes and depression.

The group said exposure to the health risks is a blatant violation of residents' rights to adequate housing, as set out under UN law, and called on Dublin City Council and the Department of Environment to fund the regeneration of the flats.

Maurice Manning, president of the Irish Human Rights Commission, also urged the new Government to prioritise fixing up the dilapidated 1950s flats, adding: "There isn't any doubt about the gravity of the situation. The living standards certainly breach internationally accepted human rights standards."

A survey of 60 out of 436 flats showed that 77% of residents live in dampness, 68% have mould in their homes and 82% complain of sewage and other bad smells.

Independent analyses of four flats by the Mould Busters cleaning firm uncovered a high presence of aspergillus fumigatus, a fungus which is known to cause lung ailments. The company said the extent of the mould risked the occupants' health.

The Rialto group said it is planning to deliver sealed plastic bags containing damp and faecal material from the Dolphin House flats to Dublin City Council.

Rory Hearne from the Rialto group said: "A home is meant to be a safe place to live, not a health hazard. It is essential the environmental conditions are improved immediately so that this can be a healthy community."

A council spokesman said a programme of jetting the wastewater pipes in Dolphin House was under way, adding that ventilation units had also been installed in six flats to see whether they got rid of the effects of condensation such as mould growth.

The spokesman said: "An assessment of this pilot project is currently being carried out and the residents' views are being ascertained. When this evaluation is complete, Dublin City Council will consult with the residents to decide on the next steps."

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