The Galway County Council has set a target of providing accommodation for more than 130 Traveller families and individuals by the end of 2018. Discussed at County Hall on Monday, the amended Traveller Accommodation Programme reveals that original targets set back in 2014 to provide Traveller families and individuals have been increased in order to cope with demand.
The council intends to accommodate 66 Traveller households (up from 35 ) by the end of this year and 73 Traveller households (up from 35 ) by the end of next year. The Traveller Accommodation Programme also highlighted that Galway has the highest Traveller population of any county in the state with 2,640 living in Galway. The council estimates that 255 Traveller households will be on the local authority's list for Traveller accommodation.
Director of housing, Michael Owens, said the new targets were very challenging. "They will be difficult but we are committed to fulfilling needs of stakeholders. The needs of 54.2 per cent has been met already and the county council has a strong record in meeting these needs."
Member of the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee (LTACC ), Cllr Peter Feeney, said it would be difficult to achieve targets.
"Every authority is struggling with accommodation. Galway has achieved all targets every year. We were well on our way to achieving targets until they were doubled. It will be difficult to achieve but it will not be for the lack of effort."
Cllr Shaun Cunniffe said he struggled to understand the relevance of programme. "Every Traveller I meet wants to live in house. They do not want a Traveller officer and felt discriminated having to use them. The vast majority want to live in houses. They want shelter and a bit of space like everyone else. I think this is an empty exercise."
Director of Housing, Michael Owens, responded to Cllr Cunniffe's concerns; "The council is obliged to have a Traveller Accommodation Programme. The programme is designed to meet Travellers' needs, be it standard housing or culturally appropriate housing. "The majority of applications are for standard housing."