Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Morgan supports Traveller's call for transient halting sites

12 December, 2006


Speaking following the publication of survey results from the Irish Traveller Movement, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Deputy Arthur Morgan called on the Government and local authorities to respect nomadism as an integral part of Traveller culture and to provide them with the transient halting sites that are so badly needed.

The Louth TD said: "It is widely recognised that Travellers endure some of the worst living conditions in Ireland today. This is largely because Travellers face systematic discrimination as a result of inadequate legislation that in most cases is not even implemented. Adequate accommodation appropriate to Travellers' needs has not been forthcoming and many proposals for Traveller accommodation have been met with fierce opposition. This, coupled with transient halting sites being completely unavailable, frequently forces Travellers onto marginal and/or 'unofficial' halting sites, where they may lack access to basic necessities including safe sources of electricity, heat, potable water, waste disposal and sewerage.

"The Traveller accommodation crisis is at least as intense as the general housing crisis. The 1998 Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act states that all local authorities are to provide transients halting sites but this is not being implemented. Little consideration has been given to the cultural values of Travellers when providing accommodation and the lack of respect for nomadism is a prime example of this. As a result of this, much of the Traveller accommodation that has been provided has not been designed in a way that meets specific need. Less than 130 halting site units have been provided out of the necessary 2,200, yet nothing has been done to address this lack of progress. It is crucial that standards are set at a national level and that the failure to meet these standards is acted upon.

"Sinn Féin supports the Irish Traveller Movement in their call on the Government to establish a body to co-ordinate Traveller accommodation. We have previously called on the Government to establish a statutory All-Ireland Traveller Accommodation Agency, much as recommended by the Report of the Task Force on the Travelling Community (1995). Such an Agency would ensure that the Traveller Accommodation Programmes are of a quality standard and that these standards are made uniform across the country. Local authorities should recognise the wish for some Travellers to continue a nomadic way of life, and therefore make available a national network of transient halting sites."

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