Travellers to spend Christmas on road after objections to halting site

 

Fifteen Traveller families, including more than 60 children, may have to spend Christmas on the roadside in parts of Tallaght following objections by local residents. The objections relate to the development of an emergency halting site near the Tallaght by-pass.

At the High Court yesterday, Ms Bridget Reilly, for South Dublin County Council, said the lands at Kilsaran were owned by the council. It had been hoped the site would be ready for use before Christmas but when builders tried to gain access, they were blocked by the defendants, Mr Luke Lawlor and Mr Jackie Dunne - and other unknown persons - thus preventing its development.

After hearing both sides, Mr Justice Kearns told Mr Lawlor and Mr Dunne he believed they had serious points to argue and they should consider getting legal advice. He adjourned the matter until Thursday to allow both defendants consider this course. In the meantime, he discharged an interim order restraining trespass on the site on foot of an undertaking from the council not to proceed with work there and an undertaking from the defendants not to trespass. Ms Reilly said the council had engaged in talks to try and resolve the difficulties of all involved.

The site development was part of an effort to relieve the hardship of 15 Traveller families. The council intended to use the site as emergency accommodation for about 18 months, then reinstating it to its former condition. Defendant Mr Luke Lawlor said he was not trespassing on the lands which had been owned by his family since 1889. He said the site had been given free of charge by his late father to the council for use as a public park for the people of Tallaght and not for a halting site.

"My father would turn in his grave if he thought there would be a halting site put in there now," Mr Lawlor told Mr Justice Kearns .

Mr Jackie Dunne, who said he was representing local residents, said the residents had been in talks with the council about preserving green spaces in the Tallaght area for use by "citizens".

While those talks were continuing, it came to light another green site was being lost. He said Mr Lawlor had given the land in question for use by the people of Tallaght.

He denied that residents had trespassed on the site intended for the emergency accommodation, had made any threats or had refused to give their names to gardai.

He said Travellers had been given facilities at Tallaght three years ago and had "totally destroyed" the site.

Mr Lawlor and Mr Dunne, representing themselves, were opposing an application by Ms Reilly for an interlocutory order restraining trespass on the site intended for the emergency accommodation.