Report on Traveller homelessness ‘suppressed’, says its author

Pavee Point rejects claim report went unpublished after intervention from HSE

Spring Lane halting site in Cork. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Spring Lane halting site in Cork. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

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The chairwoman of the Oireachtas committee on key issues affecting the Traveller community has called for publication of a landmark report on Traveller homelessness, the author of which says has been “suppressed” by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Senator Eileen Flynn has written to the HSE asking for a copy of the report, The Traveller Community and Homelessness, which was due to be published in June.

Its author, independent social researcher Brian Harvey, said he was told the day before it would not be released.

“This report was originally due to be launched on 22nd June, but this was prevented by the HSE, a decision of which I was informed at 3.57pm the previous day,” he said.

“I subsequently, on July 7th, received instructions from Pavee Point that the report not be disseminated, circulated, referenced nor cited.”

Rejecting the claim that the report had been suppressed, Pavee Point co-director Ronnie Fay said a distilled version of it would be included in a position paper on Traveller homelessness to be published later in the year. The decision not to publish had not been as a result of any intervention by the HSE, she added.

However, Mr Harvey said “Pavee Point was entirely happy with the report itself up to the point of the intended launch. The report had been through a lengthy, indeed exhaustive, process of scrutiny and consideration within Pavee Point itself beforehand.

“I understand that Pavee Point’s formal position is that the suppression of the report was its decision ‘on the advice of’ the HSE. From all the information that I have to hand, it was coercive ‘advice’. So far as I know, none of the information, evidence, statistics; nor the analysis, discussion, argumentation, proposals, nor recommendations arising therefrom were disputed.”

Overcrowding

The report, which finds overcrowding to be up to eight times more prevalent among Traveller households than in the general population, says the “inability/failure of local authorities provide accommodation is apparent as ever” with “discrimination in housing … a persistent, distinct and severe problem”.

In correspondence with Travellers and advocates who had contributed to his research, explaining why he could not send them a copy of the report, Mr Harvey said: “It is regrettable if a report designed to provide a substantial body of information and analysis on Traveller homelessness, possibly for the first time, with proposals and constructive recommendations that might alleviate Traveller homelessness, were, as appears to be the case, effectively suppressed by the Health Service Executive. “

Many expressed dismay on social media, and called on Pavee Point to publish the report.

The HSE said in a statement: “The HSE has not been involved in the writing or delay in publication of this paper.”