Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre welcomes the publication of the ‘Traveller Accommodation Expert Review’.

“The Traveller accommodation situation represents a humanitarian crisis. This crisis is effecting Traveller’s health, education and access to employment,” said Pavee Point Co Director, Martin Collins.

“The recommendations of this Review recognise the reality and lived experience of Irish Travellers today and have the potential to bring about the change that is urgently needed,” he said.

“This is an opportunity not to be missed if we really want to call ourselves champions of equality.

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Full and Speedy Implementation

“We call on Minister of State for Housing, Damien English TD to bring about the full and speedy implementation of this report and to make a real impact on equality in Ireland today.  We need strong political leadership to effect real change.

“We have been saying for a long time that local authorities are either unable or unwilling to deliver on Traveller accommodation.  A New National Traveller Accommodation Authority could spearhead much needed progress in this area.

“If a Traveller Accommodation Authority deems a location suitable for Traveller accommodation – this needs to be followed through on.  We should not cave in to nimbyism based on racism and discrimination.

“We would hope that a new National Traveller Accommodation Authority would have the legislative basis to invoke the powers that local authorities have in relation to public lands.”

While Travellers represent just 1% of the overall population they represent 9% of the homeless population.  Overcrowding in Traveller halting sites and group housing schemes is rife.

While local authorities have failed to spend the money allocated to Traveller accommodation the number of families living on the side of the road has increased from 361 in 2013 to 585 in 2017.

Ban Evictions

“Public land anti-trespass legislation doesn’t work as it simply causes more hardship to families who are already struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis while failing to provide any solutions,” said Martin Collins.

“The impact of evictions has been shown to be seriously traumatic and the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness has already recommended a moratorium on trespass legislation.  We support this and call on Minister English to issue a moratorium based on this Review.

Traveller Voice on Policy

“Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committees, that currently exist, don’t work because decision makers do not take these structures seriously.   Travellers need to have a meaningful voice at policy level to ensure that Traveller accommodation is sustainable into the future.”

This review was commissioned by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and its authors are Professor Michelle Norris, head of school at University College Dublin’s school of social policy, Conor Norton, head of school in the department of architecture and planning at Technological University Dublin (formally DIT) and solicitor and former human rights commissioner David Joyce who is a Traveller.

Photo by Derek Speirs.