Traveller families homeless after Dundalk halting site clearance

Louth County Council evicts 23 families from halting site due to health and safety concerns

 

Residents of a Dundalk halting site watched on Wednesday as the last caravans were removed from the site on foot of a Louth County Council deadline.

The remaining residents, including a pregnant mother and young children, watched in the afternoon as the deadline for clearing the site loomed.

The council insisted on the eviction of 23 Traveller families from the Woodland Park site where some of those affected by the eviction had been born, citing health and safety issues.

“I have no idea where my family will sleep tonight,” said David Quinn as he watched his home being hoisted on to the back of a lorry.

The caravan was being taken away by a contractor he had hired himself. It was that or pay council fines and charges to have it taken away, he said.

“My home is going into storage and I don’t know how I will pay for it. I’ve been told the dole will be cut off from Monday because I’ve now no address, and my family is on the side of the street,” he said.

Running water

Mr Quinn, his wife Laura and their two children, aged nine and eight, had been living in the caravan with running water, toilets and electricity from a generator.

It was not ideal but was a better option than that which the family now faces, said Ms Quinn, who is five months pregnant.

“Council officials are going home to a warm bed tonight – they should resign,” she said.

Most of the Travellers said they are mystified as to why the council suddenly decided they should be evicted after decades on the cement floored, multiple-bay halting site close to retail parks between Dundalk and the M1 motorway.

The halting site also includes a number of permanent houses.

“My parents live in a house here,” said Nora Maguire, whose caravan was taken away last Friday.

She, her husband and son used to live in the yard of her parents’ house, and they attempted to move their caravan there last week.

Move prevented

She was prevented from doing so by council officials and gardaí, she said.

Ms Maguire pointed to mounds of mud and cement blocks which were left by the council to prevent the caravans returning.

“I was told that the council and the Garda operation cost €200,000,” she said, adding the option of using those funds to repair any defects in the halting site should have been addressed.

John and Ellen Quinn, the last residents to leave on Wednesday afternoon, said they had no idea where they would sleep on Wednesday night, other than the possibility of the family car.

Mr Quinn said he had been told the council would have homes for all who attended a meeting at the council offices on Wednesday morning, but he said when they went in they were told it would be another month before accommodation could be organised.

As he watched his brother’s caravan being taken away he said his own would also be moved into storage later on Wednesday.

The council said its decision to evict the residents of the halting site was made solely due to its “concerns for people’s health and safety”.