Fact Sheet on Traveller Accommodation
ACCOMMODATION – THE ISSUES
There are approximately 25,000 Travellers in Ireland, constituting less than 1% of the total population. In view of this, providing well-serviced accommodation for all Traveller families is not an unrealistic aim. Despite legal obligations regarding Traveller-specific accommodation placed on local authorities through the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, there are still Traveller families living by the roadside without basic facilities available to them.
Un-serviced sites lack regular refuse collection, running water, toilets, bath or showers, access to electricity and fire precautions. Living in these conditions greatly reduces the life expectancy of the Traveller community, which is now comparable to that of the settled community in the 1950's. Studies have shown that there is a critical link between improved accommodation for Travellers and better uptake of education, health and employment services; in addition, better serviced accommodation is an important factor in alleviating the serious hostility and discrimination shown to Travellers by many in the settled community.
In 2004, 601 families were living in un-authorised sites; 549 were sharing accommodation in overcrowded conditions and 328 families were living in temporary accommodation.
Travellers can still be evicted from public land, even if there is nowhere else for them to go, through the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2002. Nomadism, a traditional way of life in which a community has no permanent settlement but moves from place to place, usually seasonally and within a defined territory, is an important part of Traveller culture. However it is under threat due to the failure of local authorities to provide the relevant accommodation they are legally obliged to do so.
Traveller-specific accommodation includes serviced halting sites, group housing schemes and transient sites. Authorities are required to implement an accommodation programme that would include this range of accommodation provision as well as standard local authority housing for Travellers who would prefer it.
In 1995, the report of the Task Force on the Travelling Community recommended that 3,100 units of Traveller specific accommodation be provided by the year 2000. By the end of 2004 only 98 units of this accommodation had been provided. The number of Traveller families awaiting permanent accommodation at the end of 2004 was in excess of 3,500. The additional number of Traveller families accommodated in 2004 was 231.