An attempt by Galway City Council to evict Traveller families from a local halting site has been met with resistance.
Residents of the Cúl Trá halting site in Salthill held a protest yesterday (Tuesday) objecting to recent eviction notices served to families on the site.
Last month Galway City Council issued a notice to Travellers to vacate Cúl Trá halting site in Salthill by Bank Holiday Monday, 5 June due to health and safety concerns.
Yesterday’s protest, which began at 10am, continued throughout the day and garnered “great support and solidarity” from both the Traveller and settled community, according to Bridget Kelly, Community Development Worker, Galway Traveller Movement.
According to Ms Kelly, amongst the ten families asked to vacate the area are 22 children aged from 10 down to four months old.
“The families are very upset. They’re distressed and they’re all up in a heap to be honest. They don’t know whether they’re coming or going because this came on unexpectedly and it’s not as if Galway City Council didn’t know that they were there. Galway City Council knew for years that this halting site was overcrowded,” she said.
No new facilities have been provided or constructed since the last halting site was built in 1996. As a result, there is significant overcrowding with families doubling or trebling up in some cases.
The accommodation needs of the families who are at risk of eviction have been included in successive Traveller Accommodation Plans but no action has been taken by the council, according to Galway Traveller Movement.
“What they were served was the notice and they said that they have no problem leaving but they want an alternative solution, they want somewhere to go, they haven’t been offered anywhere to go,” Ms Kelly explained.
“To address fire safety issues without making Traveller accommodation issues worse, local authorities must come up with alternative culturally appropriate accommodation to respect families’ accommodation rights,” she added.
In a statement, Galway City Council said they have a “responsibility to ensure that appropriate standards of safety are in place in each of the halting sites in the city”.
“The Cúl Trá Halting Site was opened in 1996 by Galway City Council on lands owned by Galway Diocesan Trustees for an initial 25 year period up to 2019. The site was planned and developed for 6 families who remain on site. Serious overcrowding has developed on the site over the past number of years to the extent that an additional 10 families now also occupy the site. These additional families are new family formations now causing significant fire safety concerns for all residents on site.
“The Trustees have also indicated that they believe Galway City Council is in breach of the terms of its lease agreement with them by allowing the families to remain on site. The City Council is endeavouring to protect the future long-term use of the site for the original 6 families as the lease is due for renewal in 2019,” the statement read.
The Council confirmed that they are seeking to secure alternative accommodation for eligible occupiers on site and have requested that they contact the Housing Department for assessment for housing and homeless services.
Another protest is scheduled to take place on Friday week, 16 June, outside the City Council offices.