Travellers afraid to live on site costing €3,500 a week to secure

A local authority is spending almost €3,500 weekly on 24-hour security at a Traveller site that cost €2m to complete.

But some Traveller families, it was claimed, are reluctant to move into the Clare site for fear of intimidation.

Three homes at the Beechpark halting site outside Ennis have remained vacant for over two years.

Clare County Council yesterday confirmed 12 Traveller families had refused tenancy offers for the homes, with seven applicants alleging intimidation from within the Traveller community as a reason for refusal.

The homes were vacated by Traveller families in the aftermath of an arson attack on a serviced bay unit at the site in Feb 2010. The unit was originally built in 2004 at a cost of €2m to the taxpayer and refurbished in 2010 at a cost of €51,000, with a view of re-letting the units.

The council mounted round-the-clock security at the site in Apr 2010 and confirmed yesterday that the service had cost €367,000 to date. Security was costed at €122,000 in 2010, €181,000 last year, and €64,000 so far this year.

The spend will cease this summer with the council signing a €350,000 contract to provide CCTV at three Traveller sites including Beechpark.

A spokeswoman said: “The capital funding for the project was secured from the Department of Environment. Works on the ground will commence in the coming weeks.”

The co-director of Traveller organisation at Pavee Point, Martin Collins, described the alleged intimidation by Travellers stopping other Travellers taking homes at the site as “not acceptable and should be investigated by the gardaí”.

“It is absolutely out of order and those engaged in the alleged intimidation need to be dealt with. Mediation also needs to take place to deal with the situation.”

On the security spend since Apr 2010, Mr Collins described it as “a squandering of public money and a wanton waste of taxpayers’ money at a time of austerity. The money could have been much better used for other purposes.

“The security spend was outrageous. There are no winners in this and the ultimate responsibility rests with the Travellers in resolving these issues.”

Chairman of the Clare Traveller Consultative Committee, Cllr Brian Meaney said the security costs “are unsustainable in the current environment”.

He urged Travellers suffering alleged intimidation to assist gardaí in their investigation.


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