As the Minister of State will know, Travellers are an ethnic group within our society. In recent years they feel they are being increasingly marginalised. There have been cuts in education, housing, local authority facilities and social supports. There have been significant rent increases, especially in local authority sites throughout the country. There has been a loss of resource teachers, special needs assistants and supports. This is on top of prejudice and ignorance engaged in by some sections of our society. Travellers have been discriminated against in jobs because they come from deprived areas such as Finglas, Ballymun and others. They have also been blocked from entering public houses, hotels and other such places. This is unacceptable as well as illegal. The vast majority of Travellers integrate well within our society.
I refer to a problem which affects five families on a Traveller site in Avila Park in Finglas. This large number of families had been living in six bungalows that were condemned as a result of pyrite found in the houses. Four of the houses were to be reinstated in part with internal works and two were to be completely rebuilt. This happened in 2005 when the problem was first brought to my attention. I visited the families and saw the conditions in which they were living which were appalling. The buildings were falling down and there were cracks everywhere. For two years these families have been living in caravans as a result of a commitment made by the local authority that their houses would be rebuilt and there would be no problem in getting the funding. This issue was brought in front of all councillors, local Deputies, officials from Dublin City Council and others. Recently, Dublin City Council met with officials from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The Department indicated that for the Traveller programme with Dublin City Council there was only €50,000 available this year for capital projects. Last year €1.3 million was made available. At this rate, these families will be left in these conditions for the foreseeable future because no capital funding is available. That is unacceptable.
There is also a problem in regard to refurbishment of places. I refer to Dunsink Lane where there are 300 people. This is in the Fingal area but a number of sites in the Dunsink Lane area are administered by Dublin City Council. There have been terrible problems arising from families being cut off by a barrier that was put in place many years ago, against my wishes but supported by other political parties in the area. That was appalling.
There is considerable discrimination between the way people in the Traveller community are dealt with compared to those in the settled community. I gave two examples. It is totally unacceptable that families are left sitting in caravans for two years in such conditions after promises were made. They bought furniture, have had to store it elsewhere at great cost and are living in appalling conditions in which nobody would live.
I ask the Minister of State to look at this matter and also at the issue of Dunsink Lane.