Mum of six begins hunger strike over housing issue
A mother-of-six living in a mobile home has gone on hunger strike as a result of what she claims is Wexford County Council not following through on promises that she would be allocated a house.
At present, Valerie Cullen lives near Curracloe in extremely cramped conditions in a mobile that has no running water or electricity.
Speaking to this newspaper, Ms Cullen said she did have a local authority home over two decades ago but lost it at that time because of rent arrears and getting in trouble with the Gardaí.
'I eventually lost the house because my rent was in arrears,' she said.
Acknowledging that she had taken a wrong path in life, she said she understood why the house was taken then but that in the interim, despite suffering personal tragedy, she had turned her life around and feels that the local authority is still punishing her for something that happened over two decades ago.
'There have been other people who were in trouble with the police but they still got their house,' she said.
'At the time I was down a wrong path but since then I've turned my life around and it seems like I'm still being punished for something that happened over 20 years ago.'
Ms Cullen also pointed out that she's not looking for favours or any special treatment.
'I just want a home that's all and I don't care where it is either but I do know I can't go on like this,' she said.
'I've no running water, no electricity and my health isn't great. I just want a home.'
Ms Cullen's husband died in tragic circumstances a number of years ago and while her four children from that relationship are now all adults she also has two children from another relationship which began 10 years ago.
Those children, who are still in primary school, don't live with her as a result of the surroundings in which she herself is living.
She began her hunger strike yesterday (Monday) morning and said she is determined to follow it through 'all the way' unless the council helps her.
Council communications manager David Minogue issued this statement: 'Our only comment is to confirm we continue to have considerable contact with Ms Cullen as we assist her in her efforts to secure accommodation. We have identified a pathway to accommodation for Ms Cullen which has been designed to meet her particular needs and we have advised Ms Cullen of this accommodation opportunity.'