Call for local authorities to take holistic approach to Traveller issue amid family eviction

Bernard Joyce, director of the Irish Traveller Movement. Photo via Facebook/Irish Traveller Movement

The director of the Irish Traveller Movement has called on South County Dublin council to give more time to the extended Traveller family due to be evicted today from a site in Clondalkin.

Bernard Joyce says local authorities need to work together across different counties in a more holistic approach.

The extended Traveller family, with 28 children including toddlers, are to be evicted from a site in west Dublin today by South Dublin County Council, which says it has no duty of care towards them.

The five families, who have been living in caravans on an old school site in Balgaddy, Clondalkin since late last year, say they have nowhere else to go.

The council, however, says, they are there “without permission” and as they are not from the county area, it has no “duty of care” to them.

It says they have been served with valid notices to quit and that moves to “enforce the removal of this illegal encampment” before Christmas were postponed on the understanding that the families would leave by Friday.

The site has no electricity, toilets or running water. The families have come from the Dublin City Council (DCC) and Clare County Council areas due to “overcrowding” and conflict with other families, they say.

Mr Joyce told RTE’s Today with Miriam show that South County Dublin Council should give the families more time to look at their options.

“They (the families) are trying to be proactive, the stick approach they (local authorities) are using is not going to work," he said. Such an approach was “just moving the issue somewhere else.

This is a crisis that needs a response on a humanitarian side.

He said Travellers are locked out of the rental sector and are 50 times more likely to experience discrimination by landlords.

The families involved feel they have no alternative, he said.

There is a national Traveller accommodation crisis with Traveller families not being provided with accommodation.

Mr Joyce said the families involved are asking that they be allowed to remain in Clondalkin until greater supports are in place.

When asked about a feud involving the families, he said “that was 15 years ago, it is not relevant to this situation.

“Local authorities need to work more proactively together, they need to work across counties, to have a more holistic approach.”

He said there were no new halting sites and still no provision for Travellers.

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