By Suzanne Pender
CLLR Adrienne Wallace has slammed the local council for what she calls their “ingrained prejudice that leads to the neglect of the Travelling community”.
The People Before Profit councillor heavily criticised Carlow County Council for not drawing down money that is designated to specifically meet the needs of the Traveller community.
In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers.
The Department of Housing is no longer allocating specific budgets to individual local authorities; rather, councils are expected to draw down from the €14.5m in funding that is available overall. According to cllr Wallace, Carlow County Council has not drawn down any of this funding this year.
Cllr Wallace slammed what she called an “ingrained prejudice in the councils that leads to the neglect of the Travelling community.
“Since I have started as a councillor, I have seen first hand the absolutely dreadful living situations that members from the Traveller community endure. The stories would shock many. I know of sick children who cannot get the proper health equipment they need because houses are not fit for purpose,” she added.
“I know of Travellers who don’t have access to sanitation or are living on the side of the road because the council don’t designate and create halting sites that could meet their needs.
“The lives of Travellers are a constant struggle. Carlow council executives had the means to actually help people, but instead, seven months into this year, they have done absolutely nothing to draw down funding that is badly needed,” said cllr Wallace.
“This is another example of the very real and dangerous effects racism has on the Traveller community, but Ireland has a history of fighting this type of oppression. We were treated as second-class citizens under British occupation. Our native language was attacked, we faced discrimination in accessing housing and there were huge barriers to employment – then the individual was blamed when they failed to strive,” argued cllr Wallace.
“The reality is that this is systemic racism and it needs to change. Traveller suicide rate is six times higher when compared to the general population. Is that any surprise when poverty and deprivation is so commonplace? I am calling on Carlow council to get to work and immediately draw down this money for our community,” she concluded.