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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
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Council denies promising accommodation for horses at new housing estate

Members of the Travelling Community have claimed that Tipperary County Council has failed to honour assurances about stables.

File photo of a caravan
File photo of a caravan
Image: Shutterstock/Peter de Kievith

NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN TIPPERARY County Council and members of the Travelling Community are continuing in a bid to resolve a dispute over a new housing development.

A number of families were set to move into houses at Cabragh Bridge near Thurles but a disagreement has arisen over accommodation for horses. 

Members of the Travelling community, some of whom have lived in the area for 40 years, have said that the council has failed to honour assurances regarding accommodation for horses.

The council has denied that such assurances were given.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the council said the families “have lived on the roadside at Cabragh Bridge for a considerable amount of time and they have long been identified as a priority for social housing support”.

They said that “following lengthy consultation with the families” it was agreed to construct two five-bedroom and four three-bedroom houses. As reported by the Irish Examiner, the development has cost about €1.7 million.

The council spokesperson noted that the families “have indicated a willingness in principle to move into their new homes but have expressed concerns regarding grazing and stabling of their horses”.

“At no stage during the consultation process did the County Council give a commitment to the accommodation of horses at the new development – the key focus of the Council as Housing Authority is to provide homes for those in need of housing.

“The Council fully acknowledges the place that horses hold in the culture of the Travelling Community and has worked to enable and support this in the county but, in the interest of good estate management, does not facilitate the accommodation of horses.”

‘Integral part of culture’ 

A statement issued on behalf of residents noted that negotiations with the council regarding the development of the site have “from the very beginning” been about the provision of “Traveller-appropriate accommodation”.

“We did not invent this term – it is official government policy and is clearly set out in the Council’s Traveller Accommodation Programme.

Guidelines from the Department of Environment define what is meant by this term. They very clearly, together with respect for nomadism, advise that horse keeping is an integral part of Traveller culture and should be accommodated insofar as possible.

“Assurances were given to us on the accommodation of horse-keeping from the very outset of consultation with the local authority. These assurances were never honoured, and we were not consulted in any way about how they might be honoured.”

The statement added that the issue “needs to be resolved around a table and not over the national airwaves”.

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Órla Ryan

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