€50m allocated for Traveller housing was never drawn down by councils
Underspending by local authorities on Traveller accommodation “needs to be addressed”, according to the Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan, as campaigners warn a policy of assimilation is killing off Traveller culture.
Since 2007, local councils drew down more than €50 million less than the Department of the Environment had allocated them to provide Traveller housing.
The worst year for drawing down money was 2010 when local authorities were allocated €35 million but spent just over €16 million. In 2009, €35 million was also allocated and €19.6 million was drawn down.
The budget for Traveller accommodation has been cut back – only €6 million was allocated last year and still there was an underspend of €2 million.
The figures follow a Council of Europe report last week criticising a “lack of political will on the part of local authorities” in delivering Traveller housing. Traveller groups say Travellers are being pushed into standard housing as part of a policy to assimilate them into mainstream culture.
Over two-third of Travellers live in standard housing – a jump from 50 per cent 15 years ago, when the law tasked local authorities with their housing.
Local authorities insist many Travellers want standard housing. Some councils also say violence and feuding among Travellers causes problems when housing them together.