Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Traveller Community

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (318)

Holly Cairns


318. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on the No End in Sight report from the Ombudsman for Children; the recommendations he will be making to all local authorities based on its findings and recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29256/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have a statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas.

My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist local authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding.

 In response to the Report of the Expert Group on Traveller Accommodation, the Minister has established a Programme Board to oversee implementation of recommendations from the Report. The Programme Board has adopted a work programme for 2021 a number of which relate to the design, management and maintenance of Traveller-specific accommodation.

In relation to the No End in Sight report just published by the Ombudsmans for Children's Office, my Department are in ongoing communication with the relevant local authority to provide the necessary supports so as to ensure that the recommendations made are implemented in a timely manner.

Over the course of the past year, and despite the on-going pandemic, my Department has progressed the rollout of a number of iniatives to improve the standard of accommodation on Traveller-specific sites.  These include:

- A revised, preferential and affordable Caravan Loan Scheme for Traveller families which is being introduced on a 6 month pilot basis across four local authorities from May 2021 with the objective of rolling it out nationally if the pilot proves successful. This scheme, which has the support of Traveller representatives on the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee, has the potential to make an immediate and hugely significant improvement to living conditions on sites.

- The management and maintenance allowance payable per annum to local authorities by my Department for each halting site bay has just been increased by 50%. This will have an immediate and noticeable positive impact on halting site conditions.

- In 2020, just over 250 halting sites were audited for Covid preparedness and a list of deficiencies and checklist of works was prepared for each site. This resulted in an investment of over €4m in improvements to site conditions last year.

Funding remains available from my Department to local authorities to carry out improvements works on existing sites and for new traveller specific accommdation proposals put forward by local authorities and this will continue.