Gardaí investigating what to now was described by them as a “suspicious” fire at a house at Parkhill on the outskirts of Ballyshannon have confirmed that they are now treating the matter as a case of “Criminal Damage” and are carrying out a thorough investigation.
Although gardaí didn’t use the word, effectively they are now officialy confirming for the first time that the fire was indeed arson. Until now, gardaí would only refer to the fire as “suspicious”.
An indication of the care gardaí are taking with this case is the fact that they have waited 61 days before confirming the fire was “criminal damage”.
The fire took place in the early hours of Monday February 11 on a house valued at €230,000 which had been purchased by Donegal Co. Council and allocated to a Traveller family who are living in Lawne Park in Ballyshannon.
The allocation of the house to the family caused widespread controversy at the time with accusations of racist behaviour against some public representatives by members of the Travelling community and other spokespersons after they suggested that “travellers should be housed in isolation”.
At the time Hugh Friel of the Traveller’s Project said that in all his time working with the Traveller’s Project that they were the most racist remarks he had ever encountered and that the family at the centre of the controversy were shaken at the level of hostility against them.
Official complaints were lodged in both Letterkenny and Ballyshannon under the Prohibition of Incitement Act, 1986 and related to comments by three people.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat/People’s Press, Inspector Denis Joyce said. “A full and thorough forensics examination has been carried out on the remains of the property in Parkhill and I can confirm that we are now treating this incident as an act of “Criminal Damage.”
“I would once again appeal to the general public to contact the Gardai in Ballyshannon at 071-9851102 if they have any information whatsoever on the incident.
“Any information we receive will be treated in the strictest of confidence.”