Halting site report ‘damning proof of gross negligence’ by council

Pavee Point says conditions criticised by ombudsman’s report ‘not an isolated case’

A report which found children were living in filthy and unsafe conditions on a Cork city halting site highlights "persistent discrimination and inertia" when it comes to providing accommodation for Travellers, a rights body has said.

The report from the Ombudsman for Children's Office accused Cork City Council of violating the human rights of children living at the Spring Lane site and detailed repeated failures by the authority to improve conditions there.

Pavee Point said the situation there was “not an isolated case and points to ongoing failure by local authorities”. It said a statutory agency should be set up to drive Government policy on Travellers.

Cork City Council

Bernard Joyce, director of the Irish Traveller Movement, said the report provided "damning proof of gross negligence by Cork City Council, who have been aware for many years of the situations on the site".

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Sinéad Gibney, chief commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, described the findings "as nothing short of abhorrent".

She said the commission had “similarly witnessed cases of severe deprivation caused by persistent discrimination and inertia towards the provision of Traveller accommodation”.

Cork City Council said it was “committed to implementing the recommendations of the report”. It said it looked forward to working with families, residents and other groups to “find and progress solutions to improve the lives and quality of life of children at the site”.

‘Positive impact’

A spokesman for the Department of Housing said it was “in ongoing communication with the relevant local authority to provide the necessary supports so as to ensure that the recommendations contained in the report are implemented in a timely manner”.

“The management and maintenance allowance payable per annum to local authorities for each halting site bay has just been increased by 50 per cent by the department,” he said. “This should have an immediate and noticeable positive impact on halting site conditions.”

The latest available figures, from 2019, show there were a total 10,809 Traveller families in Ireland, with 8,480 living in standard private and social housing, and a further 852 families living in local authority group housing schemes.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times