Saturday 17 March 2018

Traveller families moved from illegal encampment set up home outside Galway City Hall

Galway Airport
Galway Airport
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

A group of Traveller families who were moved on from an illegal encampment at Galway airport this afternoon, have set up home outside City Hall.

The nine families, including up to 15 children left the Carnmore airport site in Galway at around lunchtime after gardai warned them their caravans would be towed.

However, the families have made their way directly to council offices at City Hall where they have now parked.

The vehicles had initially blocked entrances and exits to the council buildings but have now moved to allow members of the public and staff to come and go.

A spokesperson for the council said it is currently liaising with the group and with gardai.  He insisted the families could not remain on the site which has no facilities for them.

“We have offered emergency homeless services to these families over the last number of weeks but we have been informed the families want a site with sanitation provided immediately. It isn’t within our capability to deliver that,” he said.

He added that a proposal has been made for a site for the medium to long term and this is currently being discussed.

The nine families initially moved into the airport site, which is jointly owned by Galway city and county councils, shortly after midnight on Thursday.

The families, including 15 children and a number of pregnant women, are understood to have gained entry to the site by moving a bollard restricting access.

They had been living at an illegal site at the side of the road in Knocknacarra for the past few weeks after they had been evicted from private lands at Carrowbrowne where they had been living for six months.

Thomas Corcoran is part of the group who moved into the site along with his wife and three children.  He said the families would happily move if the council could provide any alternative for them.

“We moved in overnight. We don’t want to be doing this. We couldn’t stay in Millars Lane, there was no shelter, no facilities, no nothing,” he said.

“The guards said they were going to tow us out if we didn’t leave, but we’ve nowhere to go. We are on a housing waiting list but we were given a letter saying all the hostels were full and there was no place for us,” he added.

Patrick McDonagh has moved twice already this year along with his wife who is eight month pregnant.

“They keep saying they will give us options but there have been no options, they are just brushing us under the carpet.

“It’s very stressful for my wife. We could be moved on at any time day or night. We don’t want to live like this, it’s not 40 years ago,” he added.

Margaret O’Riada of The Galway Traveller Movement said the families are desperately in need to help.

“They had no option but to move on from Knocknacarra. They were too exposed and they knew there was a growing row about them staying there.

“They are all on the homeless list but nothing has been provided for them. They just wanted to find somewhere they would be out of the way and could have some peace and quiet,” she added.

All the families have pleaded with local councils to provide them with new accommodation.

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