Travellers must appear before judge after failing to vacate site

Tipperary County Council seeks removal of families in deal to house six other families

The two couples must present themselves before the High Court next Wednesday in relation to their failure to leave the site at Cabragh Bridge as ordered. Photograph: Getty Images

The two couples must present themselves before the High Court next Wednesday in relation to their failure to leave the site at Cabragh Bridge as ordered. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The High Court has ordered two Traveller couples to appear before it next week for failing to vacate an unofficial halting site in Thurles.

The two couples must present themselves before the High Court next Wednesday in relation to their failure to leave the site at Cabragh Bridge as ordered.

Tipperary County Council secured an order from Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds this month directing them to leave the site so the council could execute an agreement that will allow six other Traveller families – all long-time residents of the site – to move into six homes built by the council at a cost of €2.23 million.

The two families moved on to the site in recent years. Ms Justice Reynolds ordered them to appear before her next week to explain why they have not left.

They could face arrest if they refuse to agree to vacate the site.

The six homes came to national prominence during last year’s presidential election campaign when candidate Peter Casey, a businessman, criticised the fact that the houses were vacant during a housing crisis.

Dispute

The occupancy of the homes had been in dispute between the council and the six families for well over a year around the issue of whether the council would provide stables and grazing lands with the houses.

The council has said that the families initially sought the stables and a half-acre of grazing lands with the houses but that it refused to provide this.

A compromise was struck in an agreement reached with the families last month whereby the Travellers would be allowed to maintain their horses and stables on a disused regional road across from the new houses.

That agreement was conditional on four families who moved in over recent years vacating the site, all existing accommodation being removed and the site being secured against “any future illegal encampments”.

The council was forced to take enforcement proceedings against four Traveller families to vacate and cease residing on or near the site, which it says is an inappropriate and unsuitable place to reside.

Two of these four families have already left the site. The council offered alternative arrangements, including another halting site nearby.