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Calls for sanctions to be placed on local authorities who fail to provide Traveller accommodation

The ECRI said the majority of local authorities have “consistently failed” to provide adequate accommodation for Travellers.

File image - Pictured is the former halting site in Balgaddy, Clondalkin, Dublin
File image - Pictured is the former halting site in Balgaddy, Clondalkin, Dublin
Image: RollingNews.ie

IRELAND HAS BEEN urged to take action against local authorities who fail to spend money allocated for providing accommodation for Travellers by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).

In its latest report, the ECRI raised concerns that the majority of local authorities have “consistently failed to provide adequate and culturally-appropriate accommodation for Travellers”.

The report found that the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy contains no actions related to accommodation for Roma. It added that the current housing crisis along with discrimination against migrants creates “enormous challenges” for vulnerable communities.

Direct provision accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees also presented major concerns for the ECRI, including length of stay, overcrowding, inability to conduct normal family life, and harassment and threats experienced by LGBT asylum seekers.

The ERCI is now calling for sanctions to be imposed on local authorities who fail to spend the funding allocated for Travellers accommodation. 

Or, alternatively, to remove this responsibility from local authorities and to place it under the remit of a central housing commission.

“Efforts to meet the accommodation needs of Travellers should be increased, including by improving existing halting sites to meet decent and safe living standards, and by providing adequate, accessible, suitable and culturally-appropriate accommodation,” the ECRI said. 

The European anti-racism body also called for more investment in Traveller education. It has suggested that the visiting teacher service be restored also for the provision of more specialised resource teachers.

Co-Director of the Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, Martin Collins, welcomed the report along with the call to remove the responsibility from local authorities which he says is “too heavily politicised”.

“The present system is incapable of delivering the badly needed accommodation that Travellers need. We need some sort of a centralised independent agency or commission that would have the necessary legislative mandate and resources to do what local authorities have failed to do for decades,” Collins told Today with Sean O’Rourke. 

Hate speech 

Another cause for concern for the ECRI is that Ireland has not renewed its National Action Plan against Racism which ended in 2008.

It has recommended that new hate speech and crime legislation should be put in place along with an improved mechanism for collecting data on hate crimes.

“There continue to be no provisions in Irish criminal law defining common offences of a
racist or homo/transphobic nature as specific offences, nor any specific or statutory
provision for racist or other hate motivation to be considered as an aggravating
circumstance for all criminal offences,” the report states.

It also noted that there is an undercurrent of low-level racist violence that is not being recorded or addressed adequately.

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Adam Daly

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