A Travellers’ rights group has lodged a formal complaint with the Council of Europe about appalling living conditions at an overcrowded halting site, which was at the centre of a stand-off with city workers yesterday.
Gardaí were called to the Spring Lane site on the northside of Cork city around 12pm when several Travellers, including women and young children, blocked earth-moving equipment from entering the site.
Acting on instructions from Cork City Council, a contractor was due to remove an unauthorised area of hardcore which had been laid alongside the official site recently.
Several new caravans have been installed on the hardcore in recent days.
After a tense stand-off, the workers withdrew on the advice of gardaí.
Louise Harrington, an outreach development workers with the Cork Traveller Women’s Network, said she was “very disappointed” the council took this action.
However. she said the stand-off was the cul-mination of Traveller anger at the “human-itarian crisis” on the site.
“It is quite shocking that in 2014, most families here don’t have access to toilets or to a safe electricity supply,” she said. “And that’s not to mention the chronic overcrowding and the resultant health impacts.
“The conditions at this site are worsening despite years and years of engaging in various forums. It is a humanitarian crisis.”
The halting site was opened in the late 1980s with 10 bays. Over the years, the extended families of the original residents came to reside in an “unauthorised, subsidiary site”, which has developed around the official site.
Council officials presented plans in September 2011 to extend the site by rezoning the nearby Ellis’s Yard, but councillors voted against the rezoning.
It has now emerged that Spring Lane is included in a collective complaint submitted by the Irish Traveller Movement, via the European Roma Rights Centre, to the European Council for Social Rights, against the Irish Government for failing to live up to its promises under the European Social Charter by failing to deliver proper accommodation to Traveller families.
The complaint has just been accepted as valid and the State has been asked to respond.
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