Dublin City Council to consider using public parks for Traveller housing schemes
Council says it ‘will face opposition’ and urges councillors to support new proposals
A file photograph showing Traveller housing in Ballymun, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Almost 150 Dublin-based Traveller families are living on unofficial halting sites or in caravans at the back of houses, according to Dublin City Council.
The council said it is making “every effort” to “push on” its Traveller accommodation programme and said it would consider the use of public parks for small housing schemes. However, it said it “will face opposition” and it urged city councillors to bring “strong political leadership” to support new proposals.
The council provides 143 Traveller-specific houses and 58 bays for caravans at sites around the city. The vast majority of these are on the northside, mostly in the Darndale and the Finglas/Ballymun area, with 31 houses and 14 bays in the south west of the city in Ballyfermot and Clondalkin.
However, 144 families are living in caravans at the back of houses or in bays on unofficial halting sites.“The demand/need for Traveller-specific accommodation is outstripping what is available,” the council said in a report to councillors on Monday.
The council had identified several existing or former Traveller sites that could accommodate new Traveller specific homes. However, it said in many cases there were barriers to their development. In some cases it had not been possible to reach agreement with existing families on official sites to progress plans to increase the numbers on these site. In others, Travellers had moved onto sites which had previously been closed, and these sites now required “significant refurbishment” the council said.
There was “often a circular argument of blame with respect to the conditions of some sites” the council said.
“Travellers and advocates point to the condition of a given site and the local authority points to endemic issues of dumping and/or estate management issues that are or have contributed to the problems.”
Some “but by no means all” Traveller sites were subject to dumping and anti-social behaviour, but this was no different to “pockets” of several areas across the city, the council said.
“We do not hold all the Travellers of a site responsible for the behaviour of a few and our policy has been to engage with waste enforcement to discourage those who are engaged in dumping or harmful burning of copper wire.”
There were two sites where dumping was on-going on a “massive, commercial scale and efforts of the staff to respond have been met with threats and intimidation” the council said.
The council was pursuing the development of new sites, which could include public parks, it said.
“We are open to surveying any sites identified to us by councillors, Travellers or advocates that either are owned by [the council] or could potentially be acquired for new developments. This might include areas within public parks or any land that could accommodate a development of four-eight houses.”
The council was also setting aside a small number of homes within new developments in standard housing where Travellers had expressed a particular interest in living due to their proximity to existing Traveller accommodation.
However, the council said local opposition to Traveller accommodation developments was inevitable.
“We undertake to review sites that have the capacity to be developed for Traveller accommodation in the areas with the highest demand ie Ballyfermot, Finglas/Cabra, Ballymun/Whitehall and the Malahide Road. We will face opposition to proposals and we would welcome strong political leadership to support new development proposals brought before Councillors for approval.”