By Rebecca GTM
Posted in News & Events
#Travellerhomesnow campaigners are calling for Councillor Declan Mc Donnell to resign as chairperson of the Galway City Council Housing Strategic Policy Committee due to the Councillor showing a bias against the Traveller Community with regards their accommodation needs. This contributes to the existing inequality experienced by the Community.
Members of the Traveller community are deeply upset and hurt by the comments made by Declan Mc Donnell in the Connacht Tribune Friday July the 6th. The Traveller Community are one of groups named in this report who experience higher levels of discrimination and inequality when it comes to their housing /accommodation needs being met.
Members of the Traveller community with the support of the NGO’s in the City believe that Councillor Mc Donnell needs to be held to account for promoting anti Traveller sentiments and for trying to apportion blame to the Traveller community for the growing homeless numbers in Galway City and County. He also showed disrespect to the Traveller community by talking about quotas for numbers of people living in estates. No other community in Galway city would be singled out in such a fashion. This approach by the Councillor will cause further division within communities and does nothing more than pit one group living in difficult circumstances against another. The high numbers of Traveller families registered as homeless is evidence of a systems failure within the local authority and years of neglect in recognising the cultural needs of this community.
Cllr Mc Donnell forgot to mention in his article that Galway City Council have failed to meet their own targets with regards providing culturally appropriate accommodation over the last 15 years under the Traveller Accommodation Programme. This has led to over 75 Traveller families living in third world conditions on the halting sites and group housing schemes in the city. Many other Traveller families are living in overcrowded conditions in standard housing and unable to access private rented accommodation due to discrimination and the lack of availability. These are the main reasons for the growing numbers of Traveller families accessing homeless services. The conditions on the Headford road include rat infestation , fly infestation , living beside a dump and waste facility, toxic fumes, poor sanitation and dampness, walls collapsing, public health issues including respiratory conditions , isolation as there are no footpaths so access on and off the sites is only by car. The residents of the sites are paying rent for living in these substandard conditions.
Teresa Donoghue who works in the after school project on the Headford Road said that “It is a scandal that there here are over 70 children living in these conditions being denied their basic human rights and suffering on a day to day basis”
Both the private and public sectors need to step up to their obligations under equality and human rights law if we are to break the cycle of inequality and discrimination in housing.” Says Joanna Corcoran of the Galway Traveller Movement
Joanna Corcoran was one of the representatives who walked out of the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee in June 2017 mainly based on the political negative attitude towards members of the Traveller community displayed by some councillors.
“It is a sad day for Galway when the chairperson of the Housing SPC can get away with running down my community with no consideration or accountability for the hurt and humiliation caused” Joanna Corcoran , Community worker with GTM.
She continued by stating that “GTM will be making a formal complaint to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission”
“Access to adequate housing is a right protected under international law and is fundamental to the quality of life of individuals and families. Reversing the steep decline in the social housing stock over recent decades is essential for tackling inequalities in housing and addressing the needs of groups that are found to be disadvantaged on multiple housing dimensions, including lone parents, young people, people with disabilities and minority ethnic groups. Monitoring the equality impact of housing policies is important to ensure vulnerable groups are not left behind.”