Traveller caravans on Canal Road in Portarlinton
Laois Traveller Action Group has responded to a call for action on an unofficial halting site in Portarlington, to point to a cut in the number of halting sites in Laois.
Travellers have been most hit by the housing shortage, says Julie Nevin, Managing Director of Laois Traveller Action Group.
“The impact of the current housing situation is proportionally higher for Travellers as they are a group with very low social status, high levels of discrimination and difficulties in accessing private accommodation,” Ms Nevin said.
She said it would not be able to comment on the situation in Portarlington.
“The organisation seeks to improve the overall conditions for Travellers and although it provides direct support to families the organisation is not answerable for individual families.
“In this case the organisation is not a position to comment on individual family circumstances,” the MD said.
She said that three halting sites in Laois have been closed.
“Although one site was replaced by a Group Housing Scheme for 6 families, overall the amount of Traveller culturally specific accommodation is been reduced,” she said.
The Managing Director said that efforts by government to solve the housing shortage fall short.
“The new programme does not go far enough to provide a solution for all families in need of social housing. The lack of adequate funding and resource to develop Traveller Specific accommodation (halting sites and Group Housing schemes) adds to the accommodation difficulties and cultural barriers that Travellers face,” she said.
LTAG has seen an increase in families requesting support and their levels of difficulties.
“This has been more noticeable since the beginning of 2015. The main difficulties reported by families are lack of affordable accommodation, discriminatory practices by estate agents and private landlords, and lack of resources and adequate responses from the council to situations of homelessness,” Ms Nevin said.