Traveller rights groups have called on housing minister Eoghan Murphy to intervene and ban Traveller evictions until the accommodation crisis is over.
It comes as five families, including 28 children, face eviction from an old school site in Balgaddy, Clondalkin in Dublin where they have been living since last year. The families have said that there is nowhere else for them to go.
The families have been living on the site since late last year but were told by South Dublin County Council just before Christmas that they had to vacate the area. Council officials and gardaí were present on the site yesterday.
The local authority has said they are there “without permission” and, as they are not from the county area, it has no “duty of care” to them.
The Council has pointed out that the families have been served with valid notices to quit and that moves to “enforce the removal of this illegal encampment” before Christmas was postponed on the understanding that the families would leave yesterday.
The site has no electricity, toilets or running water. The families have said that they have come from the Dublin City Council (DCC) and Clare County Council areas due to “overcrowding” and conflict with other families.
Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre has now called on housing minister Eoghan Murphy to intervene in the issue.
Director of Pavee Point Martin Collins said an independent review of Traveller accommodation law is currently underway through the Department of Housing and is due to be published in April.
Twenty years of failed accommodation policies has resulted in this crisis for Travellers. There has been an underspend of €55m on Traveller accommodation since 2000. In this context, evictions are inhumane.
“Ongoing evictions by local authorities and other public landowners is causing Travellers unnecessary hardship and suffering,” he said.
Director of the Irish Travellers Movement, Bernard Joyce, also called on South Dublin County Council to give more time to the families due to be evicted and said that local authorities need to work together across different counties in a more holistic approach.
"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 told RTÉ.
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.
Mr Joyce said there were no new halting sites and still no provision for Travellers. He also pointed out that 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.