A Ballyshannon councillor has welcomed a decision by a Donegal court to order a group of Travellera to leave a site in Ballyshannon.
Letterkenny Circuit Court granted an application by Donegal County Council on July 29t ordering the Ward family to leave the site at the Old Mart on Station Road within two months.
The presence of the caravans at the site has led to tensions in the area including a stand off earlier this year when Travellers intended to return to the Station Road site. Up to 12 children are living in three caravans at the encampment. Two of the children have serious health problems.
Donegal County Council says it has spent more than €500,000 on the family and has gone to great lengths to provide accommodation. The family has refused support services and left a council home in Raphoe after causing thousands of euro of damage, the council told last week’s court hearing.
The Donegal Travellers Project says no accommodation solution has been provided in the south of the county. One of the families has two seriously ill children and they to remain in the south of the county to attend regular medical appointments in Sligo General Hospital. The project claims that Donegal County Council’s Traveller Accommodation Programme does not meet the needs of traditional nomadic families.
Deputy mayor of Donegal, Councillor Barry O’Neill said the court had sent out a strong message. “It is not acceptable for Traveller families just to pick and chose whether they are going to live on the side of the road,” he said.
This is the third decision in two years from a court regarding Travellers in the Ballyshannon area, he said.
He said the council has provided property for the family in the county. “It’s quite clear that they did not live by the tenancy agreement.”
He said the council has made both halting site accomodation and residential accommodation available to family but both have ended in “total abuse and destruction.”
“This particular case has gone to court on three occasions in the last two months so this is absorbing council resources all the time. Everyone would like to see the family settle down and residing and living with everyone else.
“They want it on their terms but their terms don’t meet what the council require of anyone. They were never evicted from a property but they left them.
“Everyone respects that there is a tradition with the family but cases studies show that many Traveller families have settled within the county in residential properties and then there are others who haven’t. A lot of time and resources have gone in from a lot of different agencies to try and help them. This particular group of Travellers seemingly want to live on the road side, they want to live in a halting site.”
Siobhan McLaughlin of Donegal Travellers Project said; “We at Donegal Traveller’s Project feel very strongly that the health and well being of the family should not be neglected by the State or Donegal County Council. We will continue to work together with Dongeal County Council to get these children off the side of the road and into accommodation. Our main interest is to have the health, wellbeing and rights of these children addressed.”