35 People from Our Estate Have Died from Cancer in the Past 3 YEARS .. but We Don't Have a Clue What Could Be Causing It; EXCLUSIVE RESIDENTS LIVING IN FEAR

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHELLE O'KEEFFE

HEALTH chiefs have launched an investigation into fears of a cancer cluster that has ravaged an estate.

Thirty-five people in the area have died from cancer in the past three years.

Funerals are a regular event in Liam Mellows Park in Wexford as young and old are cut down by the disease. One in four homes in the neighbourhood has lost a relative to cancer while many more are suffering from it.

Most of the victims are aged between 40 and 60 but several children have also been struck down.

Health chiefs began an investigation this week after terrified residents demanded to know what was causing the cancer epidemic.

Imelda O'Connor who lives in the estate, built 30 years ago, lost her husband to bowel cancer. She said many people are alarmed by the high death toll.

She added: "People in the area are living in fear. This estate has a much higher rate of cancer than would be normal - it is way above the average. We don't have a clue what is causing the cancer but the authorities need to get to the bottom of it."

Imelda and other worried women living in the area drew up a list of the 35 people who have died of cancer so far - two per cent of the adult population of the estate.

This led to the South Eastern Health Board beginning a probe on Tuesday.

But not all of Imelda's neighbours are happy about the investigation. One man threatened the frightened widow over the phone accusing her of devaluing his property.

But local Fine Gael Councillor Anna Fenlon said authorities must find out what is causing the high death rates.

Anna said: "My sister-in-law Joan and her husband Pat who lived in Liam Mellows Park both died of cancer. They were both quite young - she was only 44-years-old and he was 45 when they died.

"They left behind five children - the situation is heartbreaking. People outside the neighbourhood are always saying there is a big problem in Mellows Park. I live in an estate nearby and I can't think of one person there who has died of cancer. …