Campaign continues to help elderly siblings

Mark Canning with the cottage at Magilligan.
Mark Canning with the cottage at Magilligan.

A Magilligan man says he is considering fundraising to help his elderly relatives and their 18th century cottage.

Mark Canning’s aunt and uncle - Edward Quigley (69), and his sister Eileen (72) - have lived in the thatched cottage in Magilligan all their lives, without running water or electricity.

Mr Canning has asked the Department of the Environment to help them with funding to repair storm damage.

“To date, we have received no support from NIEA and the issue is now with the Ombudsman. The family has been very disappointed in the lack of help they have received from NIEA, but we are still hopeful that they will help us,” said Mark, who explained some of the repairs needed at the cottage.

“The roof needs to be completey re-thatched, certain timbers need to be replaced and the back walls need to be rebuilt. There is a very detailed schedule of works and, of course, they would like to have electric, but they have not been offered any support. A leading expert in built heritage has stated that the cottage is truly unique and of international significance. It is one of about three of its kind left in the whole of Ireland and it must be saved.

“With no help from NIEA, and no other funding sources to turn to, the family have no choice but to look at crowdfunding and they are currently working with the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society to get something off the ground.”

DUP MLA George Robinson asked the Environment Minister in Stormont recently “why he and NIE have refused to help two pensioners with critical repairs to their thatched cottage home”.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said he had visited the couple and “saw at first hand the conditions in which they live”. Mr Durkan said that, as far back as 2008, the siblings were “encouraged to apply for a listed building grant. Unfortunately, they did not do so at that time”.

“They did not do so at any time between 2008 and 2015, when they finally made an application,” said Mr Durkan, who added his Department had been “proactive” and had brought in other Departments, “to get the Housing Executive on board to ensure that something can be done to help those people”.