Collapsed wall left vermin and drainage legacy

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A Londonderry woman whose car was crushed when a retaining wall collapsed behind her home during heavy rainfall nearly five years ago says a diffusion of responsibility over a replacement structure has left her fearful for the health and safety over her grandchildren due to issues with drainage and vermin.

Marion Mullan, was one of the worst affected by the sudden collapse of the wall behind her Marlborough Terrace home in The Moor in December 2011.

But although the old Derry City Council and Department of the Environment (DoE) stepped in to address residents’ concerns in the wake of the landslide, Mrs Mullan says no-one’s come near the now overgrown site since.

“When the wall fell there was an emergency job done for this here and what they did was, they just came and put these gabions [mesh baskets filled with rock] here at the bottom, dressed it and put up the fence,” she told the Sentinel.

In the last five years the site has become overgrown with weeds and is often infested with feral cats and, Mrs Mullan fears, worse.

“There could be vermin through here as well and I have grandchildren. When it rains and rains heavily, the water all runs down, through here and into the back of the house. I have grandchildren that I don’t want playing in case they touch things with their hands and end up with some sickness that I’d prefer they didn’t have.

“And all really that I would like is for that to be all tidied up and cleaned up properly [and] these gabions moved back the ways so that I have access and my husband has access to park.”

Part of the problem is ownership of the retaining wall. The Department of Infrastructure said it isn’t responsible for the wall and suggested it may belong to adjacent landlords. Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs hadn’t responded to the Sentinel’s requests for comment at the time of going to press.

“That’s the way it was done. That’s the way it was left. Actually all of this is all overgrown,” said Mrs Mullan. “This was just all those stones that you see behind. They were all just left there and it goes the full way up the back and as you see there are bits of steel and there are cats and all kinds of things. I have tried to contact different councillors over the past four years. They’ve come, they’ve looked at it. Nobody’s ever come back to do anything about it.”

She said: “I don’t think any of those councillors would like that at he back of their house.”