Wednesday, 20 January 2016
Topical Issue Debate
I have heard replies in my time but I have to say this takes the biscuit. First, the Minister of State told us the reason the council acted in this way was that the directive was issued before the Carrickmines report came out. That is unbelievable. The Carrickmines report has been known for weeks and should have been respected. It is pathetic. It was said that numerous requests were made by the council over recent months for the families to leave the site but these were ignored. That could be because they have nowhere to go.
The Minister of State has the brass neck to tell us there is no demand for Traveller-specific accommodation in County Louth and that everything is hunky-dory for Travellers in County Louth. These families are living proof that there is a huge demand for accommodation, in particular Traveller-specific accommodation. Is the Minister of State seriously suggesting they just did not bother registering their interest with the council? We all know of the failure of successive Governments and councils to accommodate Travellers in any sensitive or meaningful way - I saw this myself in the 11 years I was on Fingal County Council and it is no worse or better than any other council. Travellers have been utterly failed by this State. Now, we have a situation where 23 families are homeless and where the Government added to the homeless lists. I assume those 23 families will have to be accommodated in bed and breakfasts or hotel accommodation at huge cost to the State.
They could have been asked to comply with health and safety regulations and they could have been given the means to remain on site until there was proper, permanent accommodation for them. Think of the money, the time and the energy that has been spent by the State and the Garda. All of that should have been and can be used to refurbish the existing Traveller site and provide them with long-term accommodation. I hope the Minister of State will ensure the representatives of the Travellers, who were ignored when they brought a lawyer with them, are now accommodated by the council.