Travellers given Monday deadline to leave Thurles land

Tipperary council seeks removal of unofficial site as condition of deal to house six families

Margaret Casey of Tipperary Rural Traveller Project at Cabragh Bridge, Thurles, last year. Photograph: Alan Betson

Margaret Casey of Tipperary Rural Traveller Project at Cabragh Bridge, Thurles, last year. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Two Traveller families have been given until 5pm on Monday to leave an unofficial halting site outside Thurles in Co Tipperary or potentially face arrest if they refuse to vacate it.

The High Court granted Tipperary County Council a further order against the families last week after they refused to leave on the back of an earlier order directing that they leave.

The removal of the two families’ living accommodation at the Cabragh Bridge site is a condition of six other families, all long-time residents on the site, taking possession of six newly built council across the road.

The housing development came to national prominence last year when businessman Peter Casey made an issue of the houses during his contentious and ultimately unsuccessful presidential run.

Mr Casey rebuked the council over the fact that the houses – built at a cost of €2.23 million, or almost €380,000 each – were lying vacant at a time of a housing crisis.

The houses remained vacant in a dispute between the council and the families. The council said the families initially sought stables and a half-acre of grazing lands with the houses but they denied this.

The council reached an agreement with the six Traveller families last month allowing them to move into the houses but only if the other four families who moved on to the encampment in recent years vacated the site, all existing accommodation was removed and the site was secured against “any future illegal encampments”.

Alternative arrangements

On July 11th, the council secured a High Court order from Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds requiring the four families to vacate the site, which sits on an old regional road connecting Thurles and Holycross.

The order directed the four families, who moved into the encampment between 2015 and 2018, to leave the site by the following week. The council offered alternative arrangements, including another halting site nearby.

Two of the families have vacated the site but last Thursday the council secured another court order, which was served on the families on Friday, directing them to leave the site by 5pm on Monday.

If they fail to leave the site by this time, they could face arrest and be forced to appear before the court to explain why they have not complied with the earlier order to vacate the property.

The Traveller families have lived at the Cabragh Bridge site for 40 years. The council’s agreement with the families includes a compromise whereby they will be allowed to keep their horses in stables on the halting site.

The council sought the order this month requiring eight named members of the Traveller community to vacate and cease living on or near the site, which it says is an inappropriate place to reside.

There was no appearance for the eight defendants in the High Court case.