Row stalls work on Traveller accommodation programme

Committee has not met since April as result of incident at Labre Park, Ballyfermot

The stand-off between the two bodies  follows an incident in June when a family at the Labre Park site in Ballyfermot accused the council of destroying their mobile home and belongings. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The stand-off between the two bodies follows an incident in June when a family at the Labre Park site in Ballyfermot accused the council of destroying their mobile home and belongings. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A row between a Traveller organisation in west Dublin and the city’s most senior Traveller-housing official, has led to the near collapse of the capital’s Traveller accommodation committee.

Pat Teehan, director of Dublin City Council’s Traveller Accommodation Unit, is refusing to attend the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee (LTACC) if anyone from the Ballyfermot Traveller Action Project (BTAP) attends.

As a result, the committee has not met since April.

Each local authority has an LTACC, with Traveller, official and councillor representatives to oversee Traveller accommodation delivery. Its most important task is to draw up a Traveller Accommodation Programme (TAP) every four to five years. New TAPs are due next year.

The Dublin committee includes Traveller representation from Pavee Point, Blanchardstown and Finglas as well as Ballyfermot.

The stand-off between BTAP and Mr Teehan follows an incident in June when a family at the Labre Park site in Ballyfermot accused the council of destroying their mobile home and belongings.

The Connors family had left the site some months previously due to a dispute with another family but had kept their caravan on site, continuing to pay rent.

Meeting cancelled

They were in a meeting with BTAP about removing the caravan when they got a call informing them council contractors were on site and their van was being demolished. A spokesman said at the time: “The council has offered to place the property [their belongings] into storage for the next two weeks and our contractors have since arrived on site, photographed the unit and all the property. The property has been placed into storage.”

In the immediate aftermath BTAP issued a statement saying the family’s human rights had been violated and supporting calls for an investigation, during which BTAP said Mr Teehan should step down.

Mr Teehan’s calls for an apology and a retraction from BTAP went unanswered. The July LTACC meeting was cancelled as he would not attend with BTAP members there.

In an email to members in advance of a scheduled meeting on October 19th Mr Teehan said: “Given that there is no change in the stance of BTAP with regards to retraction or apology... I cannot meet with their representatives on any issue.” He would be “happy to arrange” a meeting with LTACC members, “without the BTAP contingent or their employees/agents”. The meeting was cancelled. The next meeting is due in December.

‘Anxious’

BTAP co-ordinator Susan Shaw said the organisation was “anxious” for a resolution adding it was “wrong that the LTACC is not meeting” due to the row.

“BTAP has been chosen to have representation on the committee and BTAP should be there. This needs to be resolved separately to the ongoing important work of the LTACC.”

She said BTAP had met the council’s head of housing, Brendan Kenny, on September 21st and offered to go into mediation with Mr Teehan. “We’ve heard nothing back.”

A spokesman said the council had “issues with BTAP” and had commuicated these to the organisation in August.

“Since there has been no response from BTAP the position taken by Dublin City Council remains the same.”

Mr Kenny told The Irish Times the row “should not stop meetings of the LTACC” adding he was “working to resolve it”.

“I will call a meeting of the LTACC very soon and BTAP can attend if they wish,” he said.