FORMER mayor John Gilligan says Travellers need to be integrated - rather than having the two councils spend money on accommodation plans.
Limerick’s two local authorities are to enact legislation to prepare a joint Traveller accommodation programme, which will come into effect on January 1, 2014. The plan, required by law under the Housing Act, provides minimum standards for Traveller accommodation across the city.
It is put together with consultation from a committee of councillors, Traveller representatives and council officials.
But Independent councillor Gilligan says it is time to change tack.
“We need to integrate Travellers into our communities. But it is they who have a problem with it. They identify themselves as an ethnic group. I do not see this as the situation. It is not like they have come down from Mars. It is pure nonsense,” he said.
He feels that the local authority is just “throwing money at the problem in the hope it will go away”.
Referring to the Longpavement halting site, he described the conditions there as “scandalous”.
Fine Gael councillor Ger Fahy asked if the new plan, the preparation of which will start this year, will see the relocation of sites.
“Are we looking at relocating halting sites from one area to another, or looking at individual families? I know at some halting sites, four of the six families are willing to move out. Different families bring different issues,” he said.
Seamus O’Connor, the council official responsible for Traveller accommodation, said it is “too premature” to go into detail.