Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 21 March 2024

Committee on Key Issues affecting the Traveller Community

Traveller Accommodation: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I welcome all our guests. I will read out some housekeeping rules we have here. The evidence of witnesses physically present in Leinster House is protected by absolute privilege. Witnesses should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

They should not engage in speech that may be regarded as damaging to the good name of the person or entity. I propose that we publish the opening statements and submissions from our witnesses on our website. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I suggest we invite our witnesses to speak for five to ten minutes and that we allow members to ask questions or make comments for approximately five minutes each. Members will then have the opportunity to ask more questions. It will go around and around until members, or the witnesses, are completely exhausted. Is that all agreed? Agreed.

Senator Eileen Flynn will join us shortly. She asked me, as Leas-Chathaoirleach, to chair the meeting in the meantime.

Are the draft minutes of the meetings held on 15 and 22 February 2024, which were circulated and already approved in private session, agreed? Agreed. Is the draft work programme, which was circulated and already approved in private session, agreed? Agreed.

Both the previous committee and the current one have undertaken considerable work in the area of Traveller accommodation policy. I welcome back our witnesses from the Free Legal Advice Centres, FLAC: Ms Sinéad Lucey, managing solicitor, and Mr. Christopher Bowes BL, legal officer. I understand they were before the previous committee on 22 July 2021. I also welcome our witnesses from Community Law and Mediation: Ms Mary Heavey, housing solicitor, and Ms Jane O'Sullivan, managing solicitor. Both organisations work closely with Traveller communities, where there is a large amount of unmet need for legal services. We are grateful to both groups for agreeing to appear before the committee today and sharing their expertise in the area of Traveller accommodation policy and law, as it is and as it should be.

I now call Ms Sinéad Lucey to make her opening statement on behalf of FLAC.


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