LIMERICK County Council has taken action against a number of Traveller families who have been parking on a site in the centre of Rathkeale since Sunday.
The council served notice this Wednesday on the two families parked there, giving them just 24 hours to leave.
Two caravans, along with vans and a horse-box, arrived in Rathkeale last Sunday afternoon and have been parked since on what is known locally as the calf mart, just yards away from the local community crèche.
The site is divided off from the creche by a make-shift fence.
A spokeswoman for the crèche said their only difficulty was one of health and safety. “They have no toilet facilites and no rubbish facilities,” she said. “We are concerned from a health and safety point of view.”
A young woman in one of the carvans, giving her name as Julie Duffy, spoke to the Limerick Leader and said the two families were in Rathkeale for a break. “We are here for a holiday,” she said, adding that they were related to the people who now own the site and had been left on to the ground by them.
People in Rathkeale had been very good to them, the woman added. “They are beautiful people.”
Meanwhile, however, a spokesman for Limerick County Council said that the two caravans plus another one had been parked on a public space in Glin last week but had moved on when served with notice from the council.
He confirmed the council served an enforcement notice on the families in Ratheake this Wednesday, giving them 24 hours to leave the site. If this is not complied with, the council can then move to take further legal proceedings under the planning laws.
The ad-hoc caravan site is located on land which was formerly part of Golden Vale Marts but which has since been sold, reportedly to local members of the Traveller community, for a large, undisclosed sum of money.
Another section of the former mart has been earmarked in a new plan for the town for the development of shops, offices and homes and for a new distributor road. The entire mart site has been at the centre of representations made by Rathkeale Community Council to the county council. The new local area plan which is still in draft form has made provision for a number of privately owned but temporary sites in the Fairhill/Roches Road area of the town.