Minister insists council committed to accommodation of choice for Travellers

Adams, Coppinger say Dundalk site repairs could be done while families in situ

Minister of State for Housing Paudie Coffey’s claim that the council wants to ensure suitable Traveller accommodation is disputed by Gerry Adams.Photograph: Sara Freund

Minister of State for Housing Paudie Coffey’s claim that the council wants to ensure suitable Traveller accommodation is disputed by Gerry Adams.Photograph: Sara Freund

 

Minister of State for Housing Paudie Coffey has insisted that Louth County Council is committed to working with Traveller families in Dundalk to ensure the provision of accommodation of their choice.

In a row in the Dáil over the eviction of some 23 families from a halting site at Woodland Park on health and safety grounds, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams disputed Mr Coffey’s claim that the council wanted to ensure suitable Traveller accommodation.

Mr Adams said the most cost-effective and common- sense resolution was the release of the necessary funding to upgrade the site.

His comments were echoed by Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger, who said “there is no necessity to evict these families from the site to make it safe. These safety issues could have been addressed while leaving those families in situ.”

Mr Adams described the eviction on health and safety grounds as a “shameful action”, done without consulting any local authority councillors. He said the last five families were to be evicted today.

He said those evicted included 22 children and that some of the women, including at least one pregnant woman, had to sleep in a car for the past three nights.

Ms Coppinger said it was “incredible that the first response of the State to Travelling people since the tragedy at Carrickmines is to use that event to evict 23 families”.

Failing to engage

Mr Coffey said the site had originally been a purpose- built permanent and transit site, but had been vacant since 2007.

He said the site inspection was carried out before the Carrickmines fire. “It appears that many of the households were in the private rented sector prior to their occupation of the site,” he said.