Travellers homeless as funding not spent

Some sites without water and electricity while promised housing not delivered

“Why were we told the money was not there when it clearly was,” asked Cllr Bríd Smith of People Before Profit. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

“Why were we told the money was not there when it clearly was,” asked Cllr Bríd Smith of People Before Profit. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Families have been left homeless and without water or electricity because Dublin City Council has failed to spend €12 million it was allocated for Traveller accommodation over the past few years, a council meeting has heard.

Halting sites were overcrowded and basic services lacking, which was impacting on the health of some residents, Traveller representatives told a meeting of the council’s strategic policy committee.

Plans to build 118 units for Travellers had not been delivered on while the council had maintained for years that the money was not there to build them, the meeting heard.

“Why were we told the money was not there when it clearly was,” asked Cllr Bríd Smith of People Before Profit.

Houses bur ned
Criminality and antisocial behaviour were the reasons projects did not go ahead, said Céline Reilly, the council’s executive officer for housing and residential services. Houses were burned and council staff threatened, she said. Supplying electricity to some sites was a problem “because of the amount of tampering that goes on”, she said. “Houses were burnt. It is not trivial, it is serious,” Ms Reilly added.

Figures from the Department of the Environment show that between 2007 and 2012 Dublin City Council was allocated close to €16 million for Traveller accommodation but drew down less than €4 million over this period.

Overall, councils around the State failed to spend €50 million they had been allocated on Traveller accommodation during that six-year period. Dublin City Council had the highest underspend, followed by Fingal County Council, which underspent by more than €7.5 million and Cork County Council, which underspent by €4.5 million.

Violent behaviour was a problem for staff trying to work on some Dublin sites, said Cllr Bill Tormey of Fine Gael, chairman of the council’s Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee.