Protest at Dáil calls for Traveller Specific Accommodation
A demonstration to protest the poor provision of Traveller specific accommodation will take place outside Dáil Eireann today, Tuesday 2 February, at 2pm. The protest calls for proper provision of Traveller specific accommodation which would include serviced halting sites, group housing schemes and transient sites. Speakers will include Rebecca Quinn, Woodlands Park evictee, Gerry Adams Sinn Fein President, Bernard Sweeney, Independent Candidate, Sligo, Patrick Nevin, Minceirs Whiden and Freda Hughes, Blanchardstown Traveller Development Group.
Despite legal obligations regarding Traveller-specific accommodation placed on local authorities through the Housing Act 1998, there are un-serviced sites that lack regular refuse collection, running water, toilets, showers, access to electricity and fire precautions across the country. Living in these conditions greatly reduces the life expectancy of the Traveller community. Studies have shown that there is a critical link between improved accommodation for Travellers and better uptake of education, health and employment services.
Irish Travellers are a people with a shared history, culture and traditions including a nomadic way of life. Travellers can still be evicted from public land, even if there is nowhere else for them to go, through the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2002. Nomadism, a traditional way of life in which a community has no permanent settlement, but moves from place to place, usually seasonally and within a defined territory, is an important part of Traveller culture. However it is under threat due to the failure of local authorities to provide the relevant accommodation they are legally obliged to.
Travellers constitute less than 1% of the total population of Ireland. Providing well-serviced accommodation for all Traveller families is not an unrealistic aim.
Organiser and main speaker Rebecca Quinn said, “This protest was organised in response to the recent evictions in Dundalk and Galway. What happened to us in Dundalk is happening all over the country and something seriously needs to change. It is time all Travellers finally stood up for themselves and demand change in how we are treated by the very people who are legally obliged to provide us with safe accommodation. There is great power in numbers and we MUST unite if we are to be heard.”
Ms. Quinn continued, “If Louth County Council is allowed to get away with what they did in Dundalk, then almost every local authority around the country will act likewise. Let`s have no doubt; they are watching closely. We must resist & not allow that to happen – an injury to one, is an injury to all.”