herald

Wednesday 22 August 2018

15 Traveller families refuse to move from State land

DUBLIN City Council will have to resort to expensive court proceedings as it attempts to evict Travellers from public land, it has emerged.

The 15 families have occupied a vacant site which the council wants to offload to prevent spiralling loan interest costs.

As revealed in the Herald in October, taxpayers have paid over €8.5m in loan interest fees for three city council sites which will not now be developed.

The council is seeking to transfer the holdings to the new Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency (HSC) -- a new State body which has been dubbed 'the Nama for local authorities'.

The sites in question are the Oblate (4.25 acres) and Deering (3.37 acres) lands in Belcamp and the Ayrfield lands (32 acres) on the Malahide Road, all of which are in north Dublin.

However, one of the pieces of land, at Newtown Court, off Belcamp Lane, cannot be transferred until the Travellers are evicted.

The same Travellers moved on to council-owned lands at nearby Oscar Traynor Road in 2008.

The council sought a High Court injunction to remove them but two days before the order was implemented the Travellers left the site and occupied the Belcamp land.

Local authority sources said they now have no option but to again begin costly legal proceedings against the Travellers.



interest

However, the process will take a long time, meaning the council will have to keep paying interest on the loan until the land can be transferred to the HSC.

The Travellers in question said they occupied the land as the council had not offered them a suitable place to live.

They were offered a place in St Dominic's Park but that is not fit for human habitation, they claim. Nevertheless, the conditions at Newtown Court are not satisfactory either, the families admit.

The site has no proper water system, no toilet facilities other than portaloos and they use a generator for electricity.

It comes after it emerged that over €3m worth of damage has been caused to public property at Labre Park halting site in Ballyfermot.

In addition, Fingal County Council paid €5.47m to Travellers claiming squatters' rights at Dublin's Dunsink Lane in the past number of years.

The city council made the startling revelation about Labre Park following one of the latest acts of vandalism -- the destruction of its caretaker's hut, causing €35,000 worth of damage.

The hut at Labre Park was "broken into, completely wrecked and all the maintenance equipment stolen", the council revealed.

However, Cllr Brid Smith pointed out most of the problems at Labre Park came to an end after an "anti-social" family was moved out.

comurphy@herald.ie

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