Travellers left homeless by storms turn down ‘unsuitable caravans’

Traveller families left homeless by recent storms have rejected offers of replacement caravans because some of the homes were substandard.

Travellers left homeless by storms turn down ‘unsuitable caravans’

Two Traveller support groups said affected families had concerns that while some were being offered good quality homes, others were being offered older caravans, with single glazing and inadequate heating systems.

This, combined with poor communications, has led to frustration in some instances, the Traveller Visibility Group (TVG) and the Cork Traveller Women’s Network both said.

Both groups also said they could not condone alleged harassment and intimidation of city council staff, or alleged receipt irregularities linked to emergency accommodation costs.

“This is unfortunate. It is important to remember that these are isolated incidents and not a reflection on the Traveller community as a whole,” TVG said.

The groups were responding to reports in the Irish Examiner last week which revealed that €631,000 has been spent replacing damaged or destroyed caravans at the Spring Lane and Carrigrohane Road halting sites arising out of Hurricane Ophelia last October, and Storm Eleanor in January.

A further €32,000 has been spent on providing emergency accommodation for some of the families.

But the accommodation payments to four families were ceased after issues arose with receipts.

Other families, who have refused offers of replacement caravans, have been told that their accommodation costs will be suspended if all reasonable replacement offers are rejected.

TVG spokesperson Ciara Ridge said many Travellers who have received mobile home replacements are happy with the city council’s response.

But she added: “The standard of mobile home replacements can vary however, and this does lead to frustration in some instances.”

She also pointed out that the city spent just €97,000 of its €1.1m Traveller accommodation budget last year.

“We are now in the middle of another severe weather condition, and the local authority has a responsibility to replace mobile homes in the event of serious emergencies,” she said.

The Cork Traveller Women’s Network said most of the replacement caravans are of a good standard, and families are generally very pleased.

But it said it has seen evidence that the standard of mobile homes offered to families can vary considerably.

Some of the homes were single glazing, which attracts dampness, and others had no proper heating systems, which would make them more difficult and more expensive to heat.

“It is understandable that families being offered substandard homes would query it when others are being supplied with homes of a different standard,” it said.

The group also pointed out that being homeless and having to avail of emergency accommodation is a “very stressful situation for any family and is particularly hard on children”.

The group also pointed out that both halting sites are overcrowded and outdated, and require massive upgrades.

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