Greater national oversight must be factored into the recommendations made by IHREC and backed up by Ministerial authority

For further information and or to arrange an interview please contact Jacinta Brack, the Irish Traveller Movement (087) 2744791 or at

Today the Irish Traveller Movement welcome the report of local authority Equality Reviews by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission examining their provision of accommodation to Travellers. Bernard Joyce Director of the Irish Traveller Movement said,

“These long-awaited findings show institutionalised and systemic failure by local authorities and a consistent undermining of Traveller’s needs where little, to no evidence of our culture is found in decisions and practice, a common experience for Travellers.”

He continued

Greater national oversight must be factored into the recommendations made by IHREC and backed up by Ministerial authority.  The community need confidence that successive government reports and human rights findings, are given adequate attention and priority and the recommendations of the Government commissioned Expert Review of Traveller Accommodation are expedited with due account of yet another confirming report”. 

Some findings identified

  • Local authority underspending of Traveller accommodation budgets, driven by structural issues and how funding is allocated and drawn down.
  • Processes for assessing the number of Travellers in a given local authority area varies from council to council, and deficiencies in identifying actual and future housing needs.
  • A lack of an ethnic identifier over the period examined has implications for the identification of and inclusion of Travellers.
  • The lack of Traveller-specific accommodation offered to Travellers, worsening overcrowding and poor hygiene conditions in such accommodation, and for this reason, people have no choice but to apply for social housing. 
  • Barriers being identified by councils but no methodology to overcome them, and not much understanding of Traveller culture

Spends: The reviews provide for the first-time local authority “own” spends on Traveller accommodation through acquisitions not funded by the Department of Housing directly, in addition to Traveller specific budgets.  The Irish Traveller Movement report; Despite significant findings in two government commissioned reports in 2017 and 2019, the consistent underspends from 2016 -2020 showed only €38.5 million drawdown across the 31 local authorities, and so far in 2021, just 2.4 million of the €15.5 million capital budget, a repeated pattern of low intent.

Identifying needs of community: IHREC found “frequently inadequate deficient process for identifying actual and future housing needs”. The Irish Traveller Movement report; Despite the road map outlined in the Report of the Expert Group in 2019, an audit of the current Plans (Traveller Accommodation Programmes 2019-2024), found nationally only 22 authorities plan to deliver to the 2,871 families currently in need (based on local authority assessment in 2018).   In 2020, just 16 new units of Traveller specific accommodation was built or refurbished, 7 houses and 9 welfare units across the 31 councils.

IHREC also found, “Evidence of poor information gathering to inform decision-making”. The Irish Traveller Movement have raised the matter of insufficient data over many years, and where latest figures ( 2019) show 10,809 families throughout the 31 local authority areas but with some councils counting families, and others counting households, for annual assessments. This has led to a potential differential of between 45,397 and 57,287 people and is problematic especially as population growth has not been adequately catered for worsening the crisis locally and without a national oversight structure, or national data set. Approximately 60% of Travellers are under 25 and 31% of 15-29-year olds are married, compared with 5.8 per cent nationally.

The Report also found little evidence for appropriate redress for homeless Travellers. The Irish Traveller Movement reported; Traveller families are overrepresented in homelessness, and yet most are not counted within TAPs, and not collected by ethnicity in the Pathways System in homeless services. The experience is worsened given Travellers’ arbitrary and often discriminatory access to private rental accommodation and inadequacies of social housing availability, where they account for 10% in emergency accommodation nationally and as high as 50% in some counties.

The findings are consistent with three other significant reports examining Traveller accommodation provision in the last four years, including; The European Committee of Social Rights which concluded Ireland was in violation of Article 16 of the Charter 2016 on 5 grounds for Travellers, with a reminder by Council of Europe in 2020 that the State remains in breech.

The Review of funding for Traveller-Specific Accommodation and the Implementation of Traveller Accommodation Programmes, 2017, and The Report of the Expert Review Group on Traveller Accommodation 2019, both government commissioned reports with the latter finding, despite legislative provisions ‘(local authorities) failed to meet the full scale of accommodation need among the community, ‘evidenced by the extremely high rate of Traveller homelessness, the increase in numbers of Traveller households sharing accommodation and living in overcrowded conditions, and the uneven record of delivery of Traveller-specific accommodation among local authorities and ‘also by approved housing bodies’.

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office Report No End in Site – Examined the living conditions of children on a local authority halting site in Cork June 2021 and found 6 serious and significant failings in their investigation.

The report also found uniformity across local authorities such as;

  • Lack of recognition of Traveller Ethnicity: There is a lack of evidence of a full appreciation of the practical implications of cultural difference when providing services and engagement with the Traveller community. For example, there is evidence of insufficient appreciation of the cultural significance of horse ownership when delivering Traveller-specific accommodation services.
  • Nomadism: There is little evidence of assessment of need in relation to Traveller nomadism within and through counties or the nature of such nomadism currently pursued.
  • Caravan loan scheme: Twenty-two local authorities make no reference to the Caravan Loan Scheme, which facilitates the purchase of caravans for those Travellers who wish to live on halting sites.

 On mainstream provision:

  • Traveller-specific barriers to accessing accommodation: the lack of suitably sized units for many larger Traveller families is highlighted. Online application systems can result in digital exclusion given poor internet access and low levels of digital literacy;
  • No real analysis of Travellers’ perspective in private rental market: No local authorities report specific steps taken to track Traveller experience of private rented accommodation or to identify and respond to the issue of discrimination against Travellers in this sector.
  • Homeless Services: Many local authorities reference numbers of Traveller families on roadside sites, in overcrowded settings, or availing of emergency accommodation. There is little analysis of the reasons for this growth, the experience of homelessness of Travellers, or the implications of Traveller culture and identity for an effective response.
  • Staff training: There is little information on the training provided, or the equality and human rights standards set for roles identified as dedicated to work exclusively with Travellers.
  • Travellers with Disabilities: It is unclear to what extent Travellers are included in local authority housing strategies for people with disabilities.
  •  ‘Indigenous requirements’: Twelve local authorities set out ‘indigenous requirements’, for Travellers to be able to avail of social housing supports and/or Traveller-specific accommodation.  The Commission has identified the need for these local authorities to review this requirement to ensure that there is no discrimination when compared to the requirements on the wider community in access to social housing.

What the Equality Reviews required:

Using Section 32 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality 2014 Act which gives the Commission statutory power to undertake these Reviews, the legal request made to all thirty-one local authorities, called on each to undertake an equality review on the performance of their services and to report on a number of key questions, which included:

·       Their practices and procedures related to the provision of Traveller accommodation?

·       The amount of funds each council has requested to draw down from Government over the last 4 years and the use of that money?

·       Whether Traveller accommodation projects are being completed, and if not why not?

·       The amount drawn down from Government for standard housing over the same period?

·       What the impact is of any failure to draw down funds on their meeting of statutory duties to provide specific accommodation for Travellers?

·       For 2019 what funds have been or will be applied for in respect of provision of Traveller specific accommodation?

*(Traveller family size ratio 4.2 and households 5.3 Census 2016)

For further information and or to arrange an interview please contact Jacinta Brack, the Irish Traveller Movement (087) 2744791 or at