EU body: ‘Sanction Cork City Council for returning money for Travellers’

EU body: ‘Sanction Cork City Council for returning money for Travellers’
The City Hall, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

CORK City Council should be sanctioned for returning Government funding for Traveller accommodation last year, says anti-racism watchdog, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).

The ECRI wants local authorities to be punished for failing to provide adequate Traveller homes.

Cork City Council spent just €97,000 out of €1.1m available from the Department of Housing as part of a nationwide, €9m tranche in 2018 specifically for Traveller accommodation.

A report from ECRI stated: “ECRI is shocked that the amount of €4.1m of available money was returned unspent, while many Travellers continue to live in squalor and deprivation.

“ECRI has been informed that prejudice and opposition from local residents to providing halting sites has translated into a lack of political will at the local level to resolve the accommodation needs of Travellers.

“As there is no provision for sanctions, there is no accountability for under-delivery,” the report added.

In April, Cork City Council published a draft Traveller Accommodation Programme for 2019-2024. It will come into effect from June 30.

The report states: “As the second major urban centre in the State, Cork City Council isn’t without its challenges with respect to Traveller Accommodation and [due to the city boundary extension] these challenges will only increase.

“The council has carried out a root-and-branch review of its Traveller Accommodation Programme, with a view to making fundamental improvements and interventions to improve the lives of the Travelling community in the city.”

As part of the accommodation programme, the council will pursue an application to construct a group housing scheme on the Ellis’s Yard site in Ballyvolane, in order to tackle overcrowding at Spring Lane, which has 38 families living on a site designed for only 10.

There are also plans for a housing scheme at Carrigrohane halting site and the refurbishment of the Meelagh Group Housing Scheme in Mahon.

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