Rats the ‘size of cats’ torment residents for ‘seven years’: ‘Shouldn’t live like this!’

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The resident said the alleyway behind the homes in Eia Street, in north Belfast, is overgrown and unadopted which means those that live in the area are unable to bring their bins into the small yards behind their homes. This is forcing residents to keep bins out on the street all week long.

Pauline Rooney, a mum-of-two, has been living in the street for seven years and has said the issue with the bins had led to a large number of rats in the area.

Describing the situation, Ms Rooney told Belfast Live: “For the past seven years I have had to bring my children up completely surrounded by rats.

“It is no condition for any of our children to be forced to play in.

“Everywhere you go you see these huge rats running around that are the size of a cat or a small dog.

“I feel like the entire time I have been here I have gone back and forth to different meetings trying to get the issue resolved but nothing ever seems to happen.

“The council pest control has been here this week and put poison in the drains, but I doubt it will do much as there are so many of them.

“There have been countless mornings that our children are waking up to dead rats lying in the street.

“I even have CCTV footage of rats jumping out of a bin lorry at the men collecting the bins while others scurry about the street, it is shocking.

“The issue is the alleyway behind our homes which is so overgrown, we can’t put our bins away in the back and as nobody has a front yard the bins are stuck on the street all the time.

“But because the alley is unadopted, nobody seems to care or want to do anything about it.”

She told Belfast Live: “If there was a fire at the front of our homes we would be trapped, there is no way we would be able to get out of the back.

“Nobody should have to live like this.”

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Belfast City Council has said the alleyway is the responsibility of the landowner and there are baited sewers and gullies in the area as part of a sewer baiting programme.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The alleyway in question is not adopted and therefore the maintenance of the alleyway is the responsibility of the landowner.

“We are aware of reports of rats in this area and are currently baiting sewers and gullies as part of Belfast City Council’s sewer baiting programme.

“We would encourage residents to contact the service directly to report any problems they may be experiencing by calling 02890270431 or emailing [email protected]

Back in February, the Belfast Telegraph reported the rat population in the city jumped 25 percent in just 12 months.

Figures found that in 2019, the rat population in the Belfast area was an estimated 505,000.

This increased to an estimated 632,000 last year and there have been warnings that potential council cuts to subsidised pest control services will hit the poorest areas hardest.

Paul Blackhurst from Rentokil Pest Control previously said the coronavirus pandemic has increased the number of rats in residential areas.

He said in February: “The closure of hospitality businesses has meant rodents have been seen more regularly in residential areas as they look for alternative sources of food waste.

“Rodents are resourceful and will always move to where food sources are.

“As many takeaways and restaurants have closed during lockdown they are likely to move to other areas in search of food.

“But, they are likely to again focus their activity in business districts as they open up again and more food sources become available.”

Additional reporting by Connor Lynch

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