Private security firms for Traveller evictions – serious cause for concern

On the 2 July it was reported in the media that Dublin’s 4 Councils had put out a tender to employ private security firms in terms of Traveller evictions. 

Emphasis in this tender on ‘evictions from houses/sites’ and ‘removal of caravans and mobile homes’ gives Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre serious cause for concern.

Based on a cursory look at the tender document we would expect that any tenders by Dublin’s four councils would comply with their equality and human rights obligations under the Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 plus European and UN Conventions.

IHREC Equality Review

We will refer these tender documents to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to include in its equality review on the provision of Traveller accommodation, announced just last week.

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Independent Review of Accommodation Act

We would also suggest that no tender be agreed until we the outcome of the current Independent Expert Review of the 1998 Traveller Accommodation Act, commissioned by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is made known.  Its publication is due in the next month.

“Twenty years of failed accommodation policies has resulted in this crisis for Travellers.  There has been an underspend of €55 million on Traveller accommodation since 2000. In this context, evictions are inhumane,” said Pavee Point Co Director Martin Collins.

Hardship and Suffering

 “Ongoing evictions by local authorities and other public landowners is causing Travellers unnecessary hardship and suffering,” said Martin Collins, Pavee Point Director.

 “Travellers who make up just 1% of the overall population make up 9% of the homeless population. We know the current Traveller accommodation framework is not working.

Evictions Get Us Nowhere

“Evictions get us nowhere and Travellers feel like they are being persecuted for simply trying to survive.  It is not fair to punish individual Traveller families, who are just trying to survive, for the failures of the State and general society overall.”

The Oireachtas Housing Committee on Housing and Homelessness recommended a ban on Traveller evictions back in 2016. “No Travellers should be evicted from a Traveller specific site until alternative accommodation is provided,” the report said.

In June 2015 six international organisations also called for a ban on Traveller evictions and highlighted the human cost of evictions.  “Local authorities need to find sustainable solutions to the housing or accommodation problems many Roma and Travellers face, and avoid evictions” the statement said.