Travellers convoy to city hall over accommodation dispute

Young families including 15 children take action as talks with Galway council continue

The Traveller families had been in private rented accommodation, but were compelled to move out more than six months ago. Photograph: PA

The Traveller families had been in private rented accommodation, but were compelled to move out more than six months ago. Photograph: PA

 

Nine Traveller families drove a caravan convoy into Galway City Hall on Friday in an attempt to highlight their accommodation issue.

The young families, including 15 children, had moved into the grounds of Galway airport on Thursday night after several weeks of displacement and forced relocation.

Talks involving Galway City Council and the Galway Traveller Movement were continuing on Friday evening in a bid to resolve the issue.

The families had been in private rented accommodation, but were forced to move out more than six months ago due to rent increases or where the properties were required for sale, according to the Traveller movement.

The 15 children are aged between 11 weeks and nine years. Four have special needs.

The group lived in caravans outside a waste recycling facility – and close to existing halting sites at Carrowbrowne on the Headford road – until late January.

Safety concerns

After they received a legal request from the owner to move from the private land on health and safety grounds, the group then moved into Knocknacarra in the city and parked on a link road.

Gardaí were called after the convoy moved out to Galway airport at Carnmore late on Thursday night – staying until midday on Friday when they then moved in to city hall in frustration.

A spokesman for the council said the group was seeking a halting site with facilities, which was not immediately available. The spokesman said every effort was being made to resolve the situation.

The families are understood to have rejected an offer late last month of emergency hostel accommodation as this could have involved splitting them up.

The council spokesman confirmed that a planned discussion on the current Traveller accommodation plan 2014-18 for the city did not take place at this week’s local authority meeting.