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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 7 December 2021

Traveller family left without sanitation facilities for 6 months wins equality case

“This is a very important decision for the Traveller community.”

Labre Park
Labre Park
Image: Google Maps

A TRAVELLER FAMILY who were left without sanitation facilities for half a year were discriminated against by Dublin City Council (DCC), the Workplace Relations Commission has found.

Sallyann Berry, a member of the Traveller community resident at Labre Park, Ballyfermot, took an equality case following what she called a significant delay by DCC to the repair of her family’s sanitation facilities.

In her complaint, she said that DCC had ” failed, refused or neglected to provide maintenance services to a damaged sanitation unit” on the grounds that she was a member of the Travelling community.

She said that in November 2011 she had entered into a service level agreement with DCC for the provision of a free-standing sanitation unit in the yard opposite her mobile home.

She said that DCC had agreed to supply and fit the unit as well as maintaining it. In January 2015, she was alerted to a fire which had broken out in the unit and rang fire services. Her husband was able to extinguish the fire before the arrival of emergency services, but the unity and its contents were badly damaged and inoperable.


DCC offered her a sanitation unit on the far side of the park, but this offer was inadequate according to the Commission as Berry was pregnant and had two young children.

Berry had claimed she was told that because there had been a “previous “incident” of anti-social behaviour by other persons on site, [DCC] would not dispatch any personnel to the site to conduct maintenance or repairs to the unit under any circumstances”. This complaint was not located in any specific part of the site.

DCC said that this incident was one where “serious threats” were made.

[DCC] submits that the critical factor which determined the withdrawal of staff was that the risk could not be localised (based on two incidents concerning the same individual at different locations on the site) and not on the direct family relationship between that individual and the complainant or any other persons on the site.

The council added the delay was due to “difficulties with contractual arrangements and tendering process etc”, but the Commission’s adjudication officer said this wasn’t the case.

I am satisfied that the delay in providing proper access to a sanitation unit was discriminatory against the complainant and would not have occurred in similar circumstances had it happened to a person of the settled community.

The Commission ordered DCC to pay Berry €6,000.

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The Ballyfermot Travellers Action Project (BTAP), which advocated for the family in the matter, welcomed the ruling.

“This is a very important decision for the Traveller community. All too often an entire community, whether it be Labre Park or another Traveller-specific accommodation area, is discriminated against by local authorities and other agencies as blanket policies are implemented without regard to individual need,” said Lorraine McMahon, BTAP Coordinator.

BTAP was supported in this case by the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), a project of FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres).

Rachel Power, PILA Coordinator, said the case highlighted the need for more accessible legal services for the Traveller community.

“The queries we have been receiving from Traveller organisations has been increasing year on year. While pro bono support secured a positive outcome in this case, there are many valuable cases that go unrepresented.”

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