Traveller families in Cork forced to share portable toilet

Traveller families in Cork City have to shower at a local swimming pool, share one portable toilet, and have no piped water or electricity as the council refuses to recognise the site where they live.

Breda O’Donoghue, chair of the Traveller Visibility Group, said this particular extended family has children in local schools, good relationships with the settled community, and has lived on the site for 15 years.

However, she said the city council will not install electricity due to the site’s ‘unofficial’ status.

It was just one of many similar stories told to a Traveller housing conference at UCC yesterday, organised by Cork and Kerry Traveller Project’s Regional Accommodation Network.

Conference chair Bridget Quilligan, the project co-ordinator of Kerry Travellers, said some families are living in cars or in unsafe accommodation, and regularly present to services as suicidal as a direct consequence of their living conditions.

Ms Quilligan said the Carrickmines tragedy where 10 Travellers, including five children, died in a fire last October, had “marked us all. it could have been any one of us”, she said.

The aftermath of the horrific fire has led to Travellers mobilising around the housing issue. Yesterday, the conference launched a manifesto to fight for adequate accommodation.

“Projects all across the country have decided our approach has to change,” Ms Quilligan said.

“We cannot continue working with local authorities the way we were before because, despite our best efforts, we are not getting results.

“We have been shouting for 25 years but all these committees and structures are not working. We are meeting people in complete chaos and stress. When you have no safety and security, everything else is affected.”

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