A review by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has revealed that local authorities continue to provide inadequate accommodation to the Traveller Community. It has now made a series of recommendations, requesting all councils to report back with specific actions and to examine how the barriers to the drawdown of State funding can be removed.

Spring Lane Halting Site in Blackpool, Co. Cork © David Keane, Irish Examiner

The IHREC (the ‘Commission’) has published a series of accounts of equality reviews for Ireland’s local authorities, focused on their provision of Traveller-specific accommodation to members of the Traveller Community.

With strong evidence of a consistent underspend of the Traveller-specific accommodation budget, the Commission initiated these equality reviews in 2019 to gather information from councils and to enable a systematic review of issues driving underspend in some local authority areas and nationally.

The accounts include a series of specific recommendations for action by local authorities.

Between a ten-year period (2008 and 2018) of the total allocation of €168.8m to local authorities for Traveller-specific accommodation, just €110.6m was drawn down. The Commission has now made recommendations and has asked councils to report back with specific actions to be taken, or intended, within specific timeframes. The Commission will then consider what further action, if any, is necessary.

Sinéad Gibney, IHREC’s Chief Commissioner (pictured above) said that the State’s provision of Traveller accommodation has drawn widespread international condemnation from the UN, the Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU and the Council of Europe.

“The last 12 months alone have been marked by regular and disturbing reports and testimony on Traveller accommodation, and the Commission’s own legal casework has shown the appalling conditions in which many Traveller families are forced to live,” she said.

The Commission has now requested the city and county councils to examine and equality-proof their system for the provision of culturally appropriate Traveller-specific accommodation, and to examine the barriers to the drawdown of State funding and how they can be removed.