Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called on the Minister for Social Protection to “ensure that her department deal sympathetically and efficiently with the Traveller families who have been evicted from Woodland Park halting site in Dundalk”.
Teachta Adams said:
“The eviction of the 23 families and the 20 children is a cause of serious concern.
The last five families on the Woodland Park site are being evicted today and tomorrow morning
Some have had to sell their mobile homes for small amounts of money because of the Council’s eviction process. This has added to the trauma for some.
Today I understand that some of those evicted from the site have had their social welfare payments stopped because they are no longer resident at the addresses they had given to the Social Welfare department. So families have suffered the indignity and trauma of eviction by the council and the state has now stopped their welfare payments.
The treatment of the Woodland Park families in this centenary year of the Proclamation has been deplorable.”
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today raised with the Taoiseach in the Dáil the decision by Louth County Council to evict 17 families, including at least 20 children, some of them babies, and two pregnant women, from the travelling community from the halting site at Woodland Park Dundalk.
The Louth TD said: “The meetings between the Travellers from the Woodland Park site and the Council have ended tonight without a conclusion. The families are very dissatisfied with the approach of the council. The only alternative being proposed by the Council is private rented accommodation which many of the families are unhappy with. This is a direct attack on the rights and ethnicity of Traveller families. There is a housing crisis in Louth. 5,000 people are on the housing list. The eviction of these families is adding to this crisis.”
Teachta Adams said:
“Louth County Council last Friday began a process of evicting Traveller families from a halting site at Woodland Park in Dundalk. This was done without consultation with councillors.
The basis on which these evictions have been carried out is that a fire safety inspection had raised serious concerns about safety on the site.
However, the Programme to Review Fire Safety in Traveller Accommodation that was published by government on December 2nd 2015, following the Carrickmines tragedy, is very clear on this issue.
It makes it clear that “nothing in this fire safety review process is intended to be used to address the broader Traveller accommodation issues in a negative way.”
In other words it was not a green light to evict Travellers from halting sites which do not meet fire safety standards. But this is exactly what Louth County Council is doing.
More evictions are planned for tomorrow. The common sense and most cost efficient resolution to this issue is to urgently bring the halting site up to health and safety standards so that the families can stay in their homes.
I have asked the Taoiseach to instruct the Minister for the Environment to ensure that Louth County Council abides by the recommendations of December’s fire safety review. And to urge Minister Kelly to use his authority as Minister for Local government to prevent any further evictions.