Green Party Spokesperson for Justice and TD for Dublin South-Central, Deputy Patrick Costello, has raised concerns in the Dáíl at the serious delays in the redevelopment of Labre Park in Ballyfermot and the continued failure to provide the Traveller Community with appropriate accommodation.
Speaking on Statements on Traveller Accommodation on Thursday, he said: “Earlier this week, a number of key groups came before the Oireachtas Committee on Key Issues affecting the Traveller Community and spoke with passion about the lack of appropriate accommodation. The National Traveller Women’s Forum has highlighted that many Travellers point to poor accommodation as being one of the key determinants of poor health, and has contributed to Traveller children being 3.6 times more vulnerable to not surviving the first year of their life and to 50% being not expected to live beyond the age of 40. This is an utter violation of their human rights.
“Funding for a major redevelopment of the Labre Park site was secured in 2016, however they are still waiting for any sort of update and the development is still outstanding after a flood risk being identified. The site is cramped and completely overpopulated, and the onslaught of Covid-19 further exacerbated the crisis.
“Many Travellers have been placed in extremely vulnerable conditions, as their living conditions have made it difficult to comply with public health guidelines to lower the spread of Covid-19, particularly with the need to self-isolate, yet there appears to be absolutely no rush to solve these issues. It is no wonder that the Traveller Community feels forgotten and let down by the State.
Independent Councillor for the Ballyfermot-Drimnagh area, Sophie Nicoullaud, added: “There must be a change in legislation for the creation of SPC for Traveller accommodation, as the current setup is simply not working. Though the delays in the redevelopment of Labre Park are incredibly disappointing, I am hopeful that things will now move quickly and that an agreement will soon be reached. It is imperative that we move forward as the current conditions in Labre Park are subhuman.
Deputy Costello continued: “The Green Party pushed for the Right to Housing to be included in the Programme for Government and I was delighted to see it being supported. It is abundantly clear that the Right to Housing must be included in the Constitution so that families abandoned by the State, such as the Traveller Community, have another route to seek the vindication of their basic human right to housing. We also must do more to ensure that local authorities are acting in a coordinated fashion to meet the need for Traveller-specific accommodation. Improving services in areas such as the provisions of piped water and sewerage facilities are also urgently required,” concluded Deputy Costello.