A FATHER and son living in an abandoned bus say they fear they will “barely survive” another winter in such appalling conditions.
Patrick Walsh and his son Adrian say they desperately need to secure accommodation, after spending four years in the rat-infested structure near a river outside Cork city.
Their situation is complicated by the fact that Adrian has a brain injury, is incontinent and has numerous medical issues.
‘WE JUST BARELY SURVIVE’
They are forced to wash in the river and use a chemical toilet in a nearby shed, and they rely on diesel from their van to give them some heat on the bus.
The pair suffered further heartbreak earlier this year when Patrick’s wife, who used to cook and do the laundry, died suddenly.
He said: “Trying to pay for a funeral is the worst, and no money coming in.”
Speaking to Cork’s 96FM Opinion Line, he added: “We just barely survive. It’s costing more now in diesel to keep the two vans going.
“We’re bringing in the grub. We can only bring in two days or it will be gone off. The milk is gone off every morning.”
They have also been fighting a losing battle against the rats, which have managed to eat their way inside through holes in the bus.
Patrick, who has been homeless for the last 25 years, has cared for Adrian ever since he suffered a brain injury when he fell off a bridge in Wales.
He was robbed while lying injured, and Patrick had to borrow money to make his way to Wales as he feared his son would not survive the night.
Adrian, 37, thankfully recovered and was treated in a number of facilities in Cork after returning home, but since then they have struggled to find accommodation.
Patrick explained: “We were in every hotel. Because he does his toilet in the bed we get thrown out of every place.”
They were originally living in the bus at the docks, but took up a friend’s invitation to move to a new site which they deemed safer.
The site is particularly unsuitable for Adrian as he suffers blackouts.
He recently lost consciousness and fell into the river, leaving his father fearing for his life.
Adrian said: “My dad heard me, he said Adrian you’re going to be found dead one of the days.”
They suffered a further blow recently when the bus windows were shattered during storms, so they had to patch them up with Perspex.
While they have wired in electricity for a TV and lights, they struggle to heat the bus.
Patrick said: “I put diesel into the van, €20 a week into the van. We sit in the van until it gets warm and turn on the heat so the bus will be warm when we go in.
“We turn off the heat then and we’ve blankets.”
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‘WORSE THAN PRISON’
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Without even the most basic facilities, they are dreading the prospect of another winter.
Adrian said: “It’s horrible. Jesus Christ it’s a joke. And I’m a sick man.”
The pair have appealed to the local housing authority for suitable accommodation, insisting that they simply need “a toilet, running water, a shower, things like that”.