Limerick councillor says Travellers ‘want homes not sites’

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

The first batch of cases will  be heard in Limerick Distric Court
A REPORT on the living conditions of halting sites and plans for Traveller accommodation in Limerick in the future has been called for in light of the Carrickmines disaster in Dublin, which claimed 10 lives.

A REPORT on the living conditions of halting sites and plans for Traveller accommodation in Limerick in the future has been called for in light of the Carrickmines disaster in Dublin, which claimed 10 lives.

Cllr Marian Hurley has requested at a meeting of Limerick City and County Council that the council initiate a report on the current status of halting sites in Limerick – outlining the size of each site, current living conditions and plans for each site for the next five years.

Independent councillor John Gilligan said there was a “sort of apartheid” between Travellers and the settled community. He said he can’t understand why Travellers would want to live on a halting site, rather than in permanent accommodation, when they largely “don’t travel any more”.

Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor Cian Prendiville said over-crowding is a huge issue on halting sites.

“It’s a real shame that it took the deaths of 10 people to force councils across the country to look at this. Hopefully now we can take this seriously and ensure that everyone has a right to a safe and decent home,” said Cllr Prendiville.

Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan said on practically every halting site he has visited in Limerick “people don’t want to live there anymore, they want homes.”

“We need to take action and ensure that this (a tragedy) doesn’t happen in the city,” he added.

Pat Dowling, director of service, said in the metropolitan district that there are seven halting sites and one Traveller specific group housing scheme.

In total, there are 85 traveller specific units of accommodation provided and 14 of these units are currently vacant. Eight families have also been provided with emergency accommodation within or adjacent to the sites. The council agreed to prepare a new report.

The authority’s 2014 report states that an assessment of accommodation need was undertaken in May of the previous year. That assessment outlined that the number of approved Traveller family applicants seeking assistance with accommodation in both authorities was 88 families.

However, in Limerick city an additional 70 families residing in Traveller-specific local authority accommodation were also seeking support with regard to their accommodation needs.

But the Irish Traveller Movement, which reviewed the number of units to be built in the period 2009-2013, found that Limerick city fell 60% short of its target of delivering 35 units, and the then county council was 17% short on delivering its target.