Council may seek order to move Travellers


South Dublin County Council may seek an injunction against a large number of Travellers who have moved into land at Bushy Park, Rathfarnham.

Four groups, with up to 100 mobile homes, have moved into the area in the past week. Mr Mick Fagan, senior executive officer in the Traveller accommodation unit of the council, said the group was "reinforcing the prejudice of the settled community" against Travellers.

These Travellers, he said, were mainly well-resourced traders who had alternative accommodation, both private and State-provided. They did not care that the indigenous Travellers of the south Dublin area who faced a real need for accommodation would be most affected.

Mr Damien Peelo, of the Tallaght Travellers' Community Development Project, said, however, that the majority of the families in the group had been moved on a number of times. While some of the Travellers were traders, "this doesn't make them less of a Traveller". Mr Fagan said legal action to move the Travellers and the subsequent clearing-up of sites were a hugely wasteful use of resources and interfered with the Traveller accommodation programme. It had 73 units in various states of preparation, with a need for 120 units for the "indigenous Travellers in south Dublin". Under Section 32 of the Traveller Accommodation Act 1998, the council could move the Travellers on if they are camped within a linear mile of any Traveller accommodation units. This legislation is being challenged in the High Court.

The council said another option was to seek an injunction to move them on. However, it would take up to six weeks to get all the information as to who the Travellers were and where they were from. "The irony is that if we are to embark on an injunctive course of action they will be gone as soon as we are ready to go to court."

Mr Fagan said a clean-up at the GAA pitch at Cherryfield, Knocklyon, after some 40 Traveller families left would now cost £100,000.

Mr Peelo said that Travellers believed that people should be fined for rubbish and they were willing to pay for skip services to be provided.

He believed the council was "simply spinning out the same message" all the time.

"Why don't they meet the families, acknowledge them and assess their needs?" he said.