The treatment of the Travelling community in Galway is “shocking” and is one of the “great shames” of the city.
This is the view of Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly, who was speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on key Issues affecting the Traveller community this week. The committee was discussing 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, Dr Niall Muldoon.
Report is 'not a surprise'
“As a former councillor for Galway, one of the most shocking things for me was the treatment of the Travelling community on halting sites,” she said. “The report is not a surprise to most people who have been active in their communities or who have been councillors.”
'There are problems with councillors voting against accommodation and there are an awful lot of political parties involved in that'
In 2019, the Galway City Council was one of only three councils in the State - along with Mayo and Laois - which did not apply for Traveller accommodation funding. Sen O’Reilly also noted that the local Traveller Consultative Committee “did not sit for a number of years”.
She pointed out that under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the provision of housing is also a right to 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,” she said. “In all of those aspects’ local authorities across all of the country are failing, and there are problems with councillors voting against accommodation and there are an awful lot of political parties involved in that.”
In response, Dr Muldoon recommended that political parties apply the whip to ensure their representatives across the State are not voting against Traveller accommodation.