The Mayor of Ballyshannon Cllr John Meehan has said the Traveller family who vacated their illegal site close to the town’s Mart, hours before a court order was to be implemented, had done themselves no favours by the appalling way they left the site.
He said he had requested Donegal County Council to come in and clean up the mess. Yesterday afternoon, Donegal County Council issued a one line statement on the matter following a request from this paper. The statement read: “The Council are not in a position to issue any statement at the present time”.
Before retiring as County Manager last year, Michael McLoone admitted that up to €500,000 had been spent in trying to accommodate the family in various parts of the county over the past decade.
Cllr Meehan told the Democrat: “The residents and local businesses of the area where this family were illegally encamped have got to be applauded for their patience in letting the legal process take its course, especially the length of time required. On the other hand, I think that the mess left by the family in question is leaving its own unsavoury message to the local community loud and clear.
“This complete mess is totally unacceptable and doesn’t help the good work being carried out by agencies such as the Donegal Travellers Project and their work on social inclusion between Travellers and other members of the local community. There are many Traveller families out there doing their very best but sadly their cause is not helped by actions like this.”
Ballyshannon based county councillor Barry O’Neill said the mess left behind backs up everything that people have been saying about the group of people living at the site. He said the problem was not just a Ballyshannon problem but a county-wide problem.
He told the Democrat: “What they have left is a message to Ballyshannon that “we don’t really care what you think, we don’t care about your streets and we don’t care about your businesses. There is no one in Ballyshannon who will miss the group of individuals who were living there. The antisocial aspect was intolerable.”
He said local people had been living in fear. “They pay their rates and their taxes and to be quite honest they should not be subjected to this. Donegal County Council have bent over backwards to try and re-house this family.”
The Chairman of Ballyshanon Mart, John Barron said they were relieved. However, members had expressed fears that there would be more illegal encampments, although Cllr Meehan told this paper that the court order issued at Letterkenny Circuit Court on July 29th prohibited the family from returning to the illegal site and this applied to any other family. The family had to leave the site within a two month time frame.
Hugh Friel of the Donegal Travellers Project confirmed: “The family have made their own decision to move from the site and we supported them in that decision. They are currently based at a site at Lisfannon in Buncrana as a temporary measure until a more long term solution can be found.”