Traveller children sleeping on ‘damp mattresses’ in Galway sites

‘No sense’ anyone was listening to concerns raised by the minority community

Members of the local Traveller community in Galway are to speak about accommodation conditions across sites in the county. Photograph: iStock

Members of the local Traveller community in Galway are to speak about accommodation conditions across sites in the county. Photograph: iStock

 

Traveller children living on halting sites in Galway were left going to sleep on “damp mattresses,” and playing in areas “infested” with pests, the community has said.

Despite highlighting inadequate conditions in recent years, Travellers were living in “substandard accommodation,” the Galway Traveller Movement said.

Anne Marie Stokes, a project worker with the Galway Traveller Movement, said many children in the community were “still living in cold and damp conditions.” At times children were left sleeping on “damp mattresses because of water leaks and condensation,” she said.

“They may have to go out to a cold container to go the toilet in the middle of the night. Their outdoor play areas are either non-existent or could be infested with pests,” she said.

“They have to live in overcrowded conditions. And what’s most distressing is that they know it, they feel it, and they are anxious about it,” she said.

There was “no sense” anyone was listening to concerns raised by the minority community, or that there was “any urgency” from local authorities or the State to tackle the lack of Traveller specific accommodation, Ms Stokes said.

Members of the local Traveller community in Galway are to speak about accommodation conditions across sites in the county at an event on Tuesday.

In Galway city there were more than 20 families living “in limbo,” with one family of eight children living in one room, the Galway Traveller Movement said.

Liam Hanrahan, Galway County Council director of housing, said there had been “a significant number of developments” in Traveller housing in the last 18 months, including the redevelopment of a site at Craughwell.

The local authority had also appointed a second Traveller liaison officer, who was currently working on the redevelopment of a halting site at Tuam, he said.

Changes to how Traveller accommodation was funded towards a project by project basis, rather than annual funding allocations had “significantly improved the project delivery model” of Traveller-specific housing, he said.