Travellers face having their mobile homes towed away
TRAVELLERS returning en masse to a small town for Christmas run the risk of having their mobile homes or expensive vehicles towed away if they park them illegally.
Each Christmas, the population in Rathkeale, Co Limerick, almost doubles, such is the number of Travellers returning home for the holidays.
In a bid to stop people parking caravans and vehicles in prohibited areas or public spaces, Limerick County Council is set to re-impose a disused prohibition order this week.
Earlier this month, council staff had to receive garda protection as they marked out prohibited parking areas in the west Limerick town. Council staff had painted yellow markings in a public area recently only to find out they had been painted over shortly afterwards.
The area has since been freshly painted by council workmen with gardai keeping a close watch.
At a meeting last week, Limerick County Council senior engineer Barry Martin said gardai had to be present at the time to protect council staff.
"There was some resistance to us doing it on the day," Mr Martin said.
"Since then, attempts have been made to blacken out the lines. We will try to uphold our position."
The council has also received two solicitors' letters from residents in relation to the issue.
The Rathkeale prohibition order was first enacted in 1969 and prevents the parking of temporary dwellings in public areas within the town centre.
Limerick County Council director of planning Tom Enright said the order had not been used in years.
"We are looking at what is the best way to deal with this and we will be enforcing the order this year. There have been problems in the two squares in the town and elsewhere -- not just at Christmas, but throughout the year also," Mr Enright said.
First a fine will be issued, and if the owner of the temporary dwelling refuses to move their caravan or mobile home, the local authority will go to court.
"It can be forcibly removed by court order. There are also provisions in the planning act to take action and go to court to have them removed," Mr Enright said.