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Adams raises Traveller issues in the Dáil

17 May, 2016 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking in the Dáil this evening during an Adjournment debate with Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, called on the Minister to “ensure the provision of a temporary emergency halting site in Dundalk, to advance all other mechanisms for dealing with the issues raised in the recent ECSR judgment and ensure the Government commits to delivering Traveller ethnicity in the coming term”.

Teachta Adams said:

“The European Committee of Social Rights concluded yesterday that the State violated Article 16 of the European Social Charter on the grounds of insufficient provision of accommodation for Travellers on three grounds.

“Firstly, there has been insufficient provision of accommodation for Travellers. They found that of 1000 ‘transient bays’ identified as needed by a 1995 task force, only 54 are in place and not all function as proper transient sites.

“Secondly, they judge that many sites are in a poor state of repair, are badly located, and a lack of water, poor refuse collection and problems with damp, flooding and sewage are persistent.

“And thirdly, safeguards for Travellers threatened with eviction are inadequate. Indeed, the current legislative framework fails to provide for adequate consultation or notice, or a requirement to propose alternative accommodation.

“For an illustration of all three issues, we need only need look at the disgraceful and degrading treatment of Travellers in my own constituency where families in Dundalk have been evicted not once, but twice in recent months.

“Seventeen families were displaced, including twenty-two children, some only days old. They were effectively put out on the side of the road.

“Councils are obliged to put in place Traveller accommodation, but there is no transient site in Louth and the families have consequently no choice but to park their caravans wherever they can. The position is not tenable.

“On the issue of Traveller ethnicity, we were told in late 2014 by then Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin that recognition of Traveller ethnicity would be ‘a reality’ in six months. Nineteen months later, we’ve seen no movement on this. 

“The formal recognition of ethnicity is not a magic wand or formula that will address the challenges and discrimination faced by the Travelling community on its own, but it would be a step in the right direction.” 

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