I am currently considering the report and recommendations of the expert group on Traveller accommodation, which has been published on my Department’s website, with a view to implementing appropriate actions and policies that will improve the delivery of Traveller accommodation nationally. The priority is to ensure that full use is made of the increasing level of funding available for investment in Traveller accommodation. We must ensure this money is spent and that further investment for the years ahead is also secured.
In Ireland, accommodation for Travellers is provided through a wide range of options including standard local authority housing, private housing assisted by local authority or voluntary bodies, private rented accommodation and Traveller-specific accommodation. Travellers may express a preference across the range of accommodation types at any stage when applying for social housing support through the social housing needs assessment process. It is noted that this process provides additional accommodation options to Traveller families to meet their culturally appropriate needs.
As Deputy Ó Broin will be aware, the 32 recommendations made by the expert group to accelerate the delivery of Traveller accommodation are comprehensive and wide-ranging and include proposals aimed at addressing research deficiencies, including deficiencies in how information is gathered and used so that needs can be identified clearly through the social housing assessment process; removing any potential delays and obstacles in the planning system with regard to delivery – a number of recommendations have been made in this regard; increasing resources and delivery capacity; and strengthening governance arrangements.
In the context of the 32 recommendations, my Department is now liaising with key stakeholders on issues arising across all relevant Departments. It should be noted that the expert group’s report has also been shared with the national Traveller accommodation consultative committee and that members of the committee are considering the report and will provide submissions to my Department, as appropriate.
My Department and I will, in turn, further consider the issues arising and set out a roadmap for implementation of agreed recommendations. It could also be called a mini action plan or a project plan. I know the Deputy loves action plans. We find them quite useful in getting work done. This involves bringing all stakeholders into the conversation, which we have been doing over recent weeks and months. We have been gathering their opinions on, and analysis of, the matter.
We will try to combine all of that as well. The Deputy can be assured that the Government is committed to accelerating and increasing the delivery of much-needed Traveller accommodation, and the funding is in place to support this delivery.
We are due in to a committee next week with the Deputy, which may prove a better time to go through each recommendation to see how we can progress them. We are committed to doing this also and we will put in place a project team, which we are already implementing, with an action plan to implement the various actions. Some are short and medium-term, but we would like to be in a position to start implementing the recommendations. We have started some of them already, but starting from January on, let us have a group in place. We will put somebody from the Department in charge to implement this and follow through on all of the actions.