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Accomodation

Task Force Report


Source: Task Force Report, Dept. of Justice, Equality and Law Reform 1995

Approach to Accommodation for Travellers
In its approach to the accommodation section of its terms of reference the Task Force took the view that all types of accommodation, including transient halting sites, should be available to Travellers and identified a two-pronged approach to Traveller accommodation in the period 1995-2000.

The first is the provision of Traveller specific accommodation. This is accommodation designed around the distinct needs of Travellers. Within this approach three categories are required:
(i) Group Housing
(ii) Permanent halting sites
(iii) Transient sites.

The second is the inclusion of Travellers in mainstream housing programmes. This principally relates to Traveller accommodation in local authority estates.

Traveller mobility as it is structured at present has meant that many Travellers experience a range of different types of accommodation over their lifetime. It is important to recognise this in the provision of Traveller accommodation. Equally, it is important to recognise that the provision of Traveller specific accommodation is the desired option of many Travellers; for them it cannot therefore be viewed as an interim solution prior to settlement.

The Task Force Report recommended a total of 2,200 units of Traveller specific accommodation be provided by 2000, To date the latest figures that we have, the Annual Count Figures carried out in November 2004, an additional 315 units were provided, it is important to remember that not all of these are permanent, we could estimate going from other figures that approx 30% of these would be permanent: approx 95 units of permanent Traveller specific accommodation has been provided.

NATIONAL STRATEGY ON TRAVELLER ACCOMMODATION

Based on the Task Force Report, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government have developed the following guidelines to shape Government policy on Traveller accommodation. They are gradually being implemented and the following table details the progress of this implementation so far.




National Strategy


 


Source: Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government

PROGRESS TO DATE


Source: The Irish Traveller Movement

1) Each major local authority to prepare and have adopted by the elected council a 5 year plan for the provision of Traveller accommodation in their area. The plans would be subject to periodic review by local authorities in the light of progress and developments otherwise and including changes in the local Traveller population.

All local authorities defined as relevant housing authorities within the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act adopted there 1st five year programmes with effect from the beginning of March 2000 to the end of 2004. The Irish Traveller Movement at the time expressed concern about the manner and content of some of these programs.

2) The local plans would be co-ordinated by the Department with the assistance of the Consultative Group(see section 6 below) into a national plan to deliver the 3,100 units of accommodation required. The types of accommodation as set out in the Report of the Task Force are:

  • Permanent halting sites(1,200 serviced bays) and 900 houses.
  • A network of serviced transient halting sites (1,000 bays)

The total cost of this accommodation was estimated by the Task Force at 158 million pounds (1994 prices). The extra cost over and above the present (1996) levels of expenditure is 14 million annually over the 6 year implementation period of the plan. The increase in expenditure would build up from 1997 onwards.

The plan to deliver 3,100 units of accommodation by the year 2000 has not been delivered upon. Only a small percentage of Traveller specific units have been built in the past five years. While funding has been made available by the DOEHLG, the local authorities have been slow to implement Traveller provision.

In April 2005 the second Traveller Accommodations Programmes were adopted, these programmes run for 4 years until the end of 2009.

At present there is a shortfall of 3,544 families still waiting to be accommodated

Funding Traveller Accommodation is not an issue, the monies are available.

3) The Housing Acts and the Management Acts to be amended to impose on local authorities the obligation to prepare and adopt their plans by a specified deadline and to provide that, in the event of the elected members not adopting a plan within the time allowed, the Manager would then be empowered and required to formally make the plan. When a plan had been made the authority would be required to take the necessary steps to secure its implementation.

The Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act was introduced in 1998. The Act has made the amendments as specified.

In 2005 the Sligo Co. Council Manager had to step in and use his emergency powers, as the full council would not adopt the plan.

4) A special unit to be established in the Department of the Environment to oversee the preparation, monitoring, implementation and co-ordination of the programme for Traveller Accommodation, including the preparation and enactment of the necessary legislation. The unit will also serve the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee.

The Traveller Accommodation Unit was established in November 1996. It played a key role in the introduction of the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998 and the development of guidelines on Traveller specific accommodation.

6) A National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee (NTACC) to be established on a statutory basis to monitor preparation, adequacy and implementation of the local accommodation programmes, and to advise the Minister as necessary. The committee would consist of seven members nominated by the Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Equality and relevant national Traveller organisations and to be chaired by a nominee of the Minister for the Environment.

The NTACC was established under section 20 of the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998 and includes representatives of the Irish Traveller Movement, Pavee Point and the National Traveller Women's Forum. The NTACC has produced a number of annual reports these are available from the National Traveller Accommodation Unit at the DOEHLG.

7) Wider legislative powers to be given to local authorities to deal with illegal, indiscriminate and unauthorised parking by Travellers and related matters. Consideration to be given to prohibiting parking of caravans and temporary dwellings within a specified distance, say, one mile of Traveller accommodation.

Section 32 of the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act fulfil these obligations. The Irish Traveller Movement expressed concern at the inclusion of this measure in the National Strategy and the use of section 32 by some local authorities to date has shown that our concern has been well founded. ITM will continue to monitor the use of section 32's on a national level.

8) There should be a statutory requirement that Traveller accommodation committees, representative of the elected members and officials of the local authority and Travellers, be established in each local authority area to facilitate consultation and to assist in the development and implementation of the local programmes.

Section 21 of the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998 requires local authorities to establish Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committees (LTACC). All relevant local authorities have established LTACC's. ITM see the establishment and active participation of Travellers/Traveller organisations on LTACC's as crucial to the adoption and implementation of appropriate Traveller Accommodation Programmes. The ITM have expressed grave concern at the disparities in the establishment, terms of reference, and working methods of some of these committees.