Councillor Luke Poots, whose relation died from catching a disease from rats urine, has said he will do all he can to help a single Lisburn mother who claims her home and back yard are overrun with rodents.
Roisin McAnerney, who lives at a ground floor flat at Woodside will not even allow her two year old son out in her back yard for fear he might be exposed to rats.
Frustrated, she has contacted the Housing Executive and Environmental Health to help with the rat infestation but claims they have been unable to solve the problem.
Roisin says she has been forced to move out of her accommodation and for over a week, mother and son had to live apart. Her son lived with family while Roisin, too afraid to return to her flat, moved in with her mother.
Roisin claims rats are underneath the floorboards, in her hot press and in her back yard,
She said, “My two year old son has nowhere to play as my flat is just infested with rats. I have rats in my flat and out the back. It is a disgrace. My toddler should not have to live in that environment let alone an adult.
“Yes rubbish has been removed from the back yard but this is the fourth time from I’ve been here the place has had to be cleared. I brought my black bag out last week and a rat came out of it. What has to be done before you can get rehoused?
“All I want is my son to have stable life. He has had to live with his grandparents but he is with me again. We should not have to live like this, it is so unfair to him and it is literally breaking my heart and making me feel terrible.”
Mr Poots said he knows only too well the dangers rats can bring and said more should be done to help re-house this woman.
“My relation died of catching a disease from rats,” he said. “He was picking potatoes and rats urine got into a cut in his hand and he later died from suspected jaundice.
“I have been working with the Housing Executive and I am very disappointed nothing has been done yet to help this woman. She should not have to be parted from her son. She should be rehoused and should not have to live in these conditions.
“I have been told that previous tenants had also similar problems with rats. Still nothing has been done. It is clear this place is unsafe not only for children but for adults as well.
“I plan to meet with the Housing Executive to find out what they plan to do for this woman.”
The Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council were unavailable for comment at time of The Star going to press.