Convoys of caravans that park at the side of the road should be legally obliged to move on within 24 hours according to a Laois County Councillor.
In the wake of a recent incident near Rathdowney, Cllr John King, claimed many people are fearful when caravans pull up overnight beside their houses.
“It is grossly unfair. I know a woman living on her own that had temporary dwellers park caravans on both sides of her home. By the second day they were getting cheeky and popping over the wall to use her outside tap, they just walked in. This situation will have to be changed. I have it down for a motion at the next council meeting to sanction a legal document, that any people parked on the side of a public road can only stay for a 24 hour period.
“People are fearful of convoys of caravans. We need to let these people know they haven’t got a right to stay on a public road. These are not people from Laois,” he told the Leinster Express.
Last week he questioned Laois’ Acting Chief Superintendent Michael Byrnes on the problem during the Joint Policing Committee meeting.
“In Borris-in-Ossory there was an influx of caravans and cars parking on the byways. They had no toilet facilities. Who is responsible? I don’t accept people being moved from one area to another, causing more problems. If they come in they should have to move in 24 hours,” he said.
Cllr Brendan Phelan said there were three serious spots in Abbeyleix.
“There are large groups of travellers arriving in small areas overnight. The level of crime shoots up. Last year when people were leaving, they took half the telephone cable with them. They left pensioners who depend on their landline lacking. There is fear that something is going to happen. Those large groups have no water facilities or sanitation. they can move in beside an old person, and take over their tap. We need some clarity on what’s available to people in that position,” he said.
Emo Cllr Tom Mulhall said more halting sites were needed.
“We have a similar problem with temporary dwellers, particularly on The Heath, they park up in Summer, you could have up to 20 or 25 caravans. That land is owned by the OPW. In my experience the Gardaí are effective in getting them moved on. I don’t think they should be allowed park in amenity areas, laneways or close to residents in rural areas. I know we are short halting sites, but something will have to be done, it’s causing inconvenience to residents,” he said.
Acting Chief Supt Byrnes said they acted quickly when a water supply was being used without permission.
“We try to deal with it as quickly and agressively as we can, while being bound by regulations,” he said.
He said that in 90 per cent of cases, when the Gardaí are called out, the situation is resolved, but agreed there was a problem.
“The area needs to be addressed. If they are parking illegally, we have several options. The means by which they were towed seems to disappear. We can go through the courts and get an injunction served but it can be a long process, it is a major problem,” he said.