Review of Traveller accommodation to be carried out
The 1998 Act has been criticised for failing to brings sanctions against councils
Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English says he “very much” supports the review of the Act. Photograph: Alan Betson
A review of whether Traveller accommodation legislation is delivering on its aims is set be announced, almost 20 years after it was enacted.
The 1998 Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act, which mandates local authorities to draw up Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) every four years, has come under sustained criticism from Travellers, who argue it contains no sanctions against local authorities failing to meet their targets.
A Housing Agency review of funding and the delivery of Traveller accommodation is nearly finished and will be reviewed by the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee. This committee has already called for a review of the Act, which Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English says he “very much” supports. It will be announced once the other reviews are complete.
Figures for 2016, the most recent available, show there are 1,499 Traveller households living in overcrowded or unauthorised sites, often without electricity, toilets or running water – an increase of 103 since in 2015, and of 327 since 2014.
Last year’s count found there were 10,364 Traveller households across Ireland.
According to a recent Irish Traveller Movement report, just nine of the 34 local authorities fulfilled their TAP targets between 2009 and 2013.
In 2014, when the national target was to provide 157 units of Traveller-specific accommodation, just 118 were delivered. The target in 2015 was 198 units, 138 of which were delivered.
Last Friday, Mr English announced a 2017 allocation for Traveller-specific accommodation of €9 million, a €3.5 million increase on last year.
Of the €5.5 million provided in 2016, just €4.3 million was drawn down. Some 12 local authorities did not draw down anything, according to the Department of Housing , including Galway City Council and Clare, Cork and Longford county councils .
Traveller advocates have previously called for a central Traveller accommodation body to monitor local authorities’ delivery and with powers to compel delivery.