Rat nightmare in ‘Bog’

Bogside residents sick of rats running rampant in their yards and attics, and fearful they will soon be nesting in their homes, want action now.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 5:44 pm

Neil Doherty, who lives with his young family in Lisfannon Park, says his backyard which was formerly used by his children to play is now a ‘no go’ area.

“There was a dead one out there last week. I don’t know how long it lay for but the smell was coming into the house. Bluebottles and flies were gathering. The maggots and the bluebottles were gathering under the children’s treehouse. It’s only a matter of time before they get into the house,” he says.

Mr. Doherty explains that pest control have been out and done everything in their power to address infestations. But sooner or later the rats return.

Neil Doherty with a rat trap in his backyard next to his children’s treehouse.

He and other neighbours believe a more comprehensive approach by statutory and non-statutory agencies needs to be adopted.

“It’s been ongoing the last six years. It’s in the attic, down the backyard, they have been in my bins the past week. There are times you would see them going up and down the lane. Pest control have been out and have done everyhing to sort the problem but there is nothing stopping it. They just keep coming back.”

Most recently the animals gnawed their way through silicone sealant to access Mr. Doherty’s home via a drainage pipe from his kitchen.

“Now they have dug their way into the cavities through the back. There are baby ones in the cavities. They were in my wheelie bin as well.”

One theory about the rat resurgence is that there may be disused sewers and drains in the Lisfannon Park and Blucher Street area that have not been properly sealed.

Mr. Doherty says there has been talk about putting cameras down the drains to shed light on what’s happening underground.

Notwithstanding the root cause, Mr. Doherty, says his family needs action to be taken urgently because the vermin have already destroyed his attic space.

“You can see the damage up there - rats’ droppings, they have shredded bags and bin liners, the insulation, where you can see they have made nests.

“You can see where they have been running right around the edge of the attic.”

A neighbour said: “Everybody needs to come together at this point.

“It’s been going on for years and we are fed up with it. Somebody needs to take control. The fact they are being caught in backyards - it is only a matter of time before they try to make their way into people’s houses.”

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly said: “This is going on a hell of a long time. Rats are known to carry dozens of diseases and they can be dangerous.

“There are a lot of children in these homes too.

“It’s a huge health and safety issue. The statutory agencies and the housing need to come together and have a plan.

“They can’t keep coming back every so often with the same issue.”

A spokesperson for Derry City & Strabane District Council confirmed its Environmental Health Team has been on site and has been offering advice and assistance to the property owners, as they work to find a resolution.

NI Water said it is part of an interagency pest control group made up of local MLAs, Council and NIHE which meets every few months to discuss and review the issue of rodent activity in the Bogside area.

It does not believe the sewers are the problem.

A spokesperson said:

“NI Water has carried out previously investigations and remedial works at Abbots Walk and Drumcliff Avenue to seal off disused sewer pipes and seal access points.

“Similarly, on August 24 further complaints of rodents in Lisfannon Park area were received via the group and in response, NI Water investigated again.

“We have found no evidence of rodents in the sewers which is confirmation that the sewerage system isn’t at fault.

“NI Water will present these findings at the next Pest Control Group meeting to rule out the sewerage system as the cause with a view to aid the other agencies to find a solution.”