The Joint Committee on Key Issues affecting the Traveller Community today discussed the report “No End in Site – An investigation into the living conditions of children living on a local authority halting site” by the Ombudsman for Children and related matters. The report focused on the living conditions at a local authority run halting site where sixty-six children and their families where living.
Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children noted that “the local authority failed to consider the best interest of children”. He went on to add “the local authority did not maintain the site and housing applications were not processed or were incomplete”.
Speaking in response to Dr Muldoon Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly said “as a former councillor for Galway one of the most shocking things for me was the treatment of travelling community on halting sites”. She continued “the report is not a surprise to most people who have been active in their communities or who have been councillors. I think that is one of the greatest shames in some ways and certainly Galway City Council, year on year, routinely returns funding. The local Traveller Consultative Committee did not sit for a number of years”.
Senator O’Reilly asked Dr. Muldoon “If you put into place the traveller accommodation plan, to what extent are they really consultative if you’re failing to bring everyone together”.
O’Reilly continued “in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is not just about the provision of housing but it’s also about the provision of adequate housing. I would argue that it has to be a home, it has to be something that reflects the culture of that particular section of society. In all of those aspects’ local authorities across all of the country are failing
“There are problems with councillors voting against accommodation and there are an awful lot of political parties involved in that, it’s not the Government, and everyone needs to take responsibility for that and particularly the largest three parties in the country who do wield an awful lot of power in these local authorities. Everyone needs to step up to the plate. There are rats in places I would know in Galway for instance which is absolutely not the fault of the local population. It’s because they have been crying out for housing”.
In response Dr. Muldoon recommended that political parties apply the Whip – in other words – that political parties ensure that their representatives across the country are not voting against accommodation.