Lawne Park in Ballyshannon, one of the areas that could be effected by a ban on overnight stays by caravans and campervans PICTURE: THOMAS GALLAGHER
The Donegal Travellers Project is concerned that a motion calling for bylaws which would ban caravans and campervans from overnight stays at a number of locations in south Donegal could be discriminatory against Travellers.
Donegal County Council has also expressed concern that the motion could be viewed as discriminatory.
The motion, proposed by outgoing Fine Gael councillor Barry O’Neill, was passed unanimously at the Donegal municipal district meeting on Tuesday.
It called for the bylaws prohibiting the overnight parking of campervans and caravans at Lawne Park, Market Yard, Cluain Barron, Coolcholly, Townparks and Ballyhanna in Ballyshannon and in Bundoran at Newtown, the SuperValu car park at Railway Road, the sea front car park and adjoining road and at Tullan Strand car park.
The motion follows ongoing reports of antisocial behaviour in the Lawne Park estate in Ballyshannon. Cllr O’Neill has been vocal in his calls for the removal of caravans from the area.
His motion, seconded by Sinn Féin councillor Noel Jordan, was backed unanimously with none of the other five county councillors speaking against the proposal.
He said he was not sure based on the response from the council whether the bylaws would be put in place.
He said that the issues with caravans have had “a huge impact on people’s lives”.
“As a result of a continuous influx of groupings of caravans we have had issues,” he said.
He said there was a clash between the Criminal Justice Act and the Planning Act and how they were each enforced in trying to deal with the issues.
He said residents in housing estates are having to deal with issues surrounding caravans.
“People can say this is discriminatory, they can say what they want. But I know what I have felt, what I have witnessed,” he said.
He said he was not against tourism and there are three different providers who can provide overnight locations for campervans.
Responding to the passing of the motion Manager of the Donegal Travellers Project Siobhan McLaughlin said that if it in any way targets Travellers it would be discriminatory.
“The Donegal Travellers project has felt that the days of putting motions forward banning people from different forms of housing had been left behind, and we were now in a place where we have a consensus of collaborative consultation and building positive relationships so we can meet the needs of all stakeholders.
“We are particularly concerned that if this motion leaves anyone homeless or contributes to homelessness that Donegal County Council would need to revoke it immediately."
The council said consideration will need to be given as to how such bylaws will be policed and enforced.
“Consideration will need to be given as to whether or not such bylaws could be viewed as discriminatory,” the council said in a written response.