Monday 16 September 2019

Families are still living in 'unsafe' homes

The scene of the tragic fire at Glenmaluck Road, Carrickmines.
The scene of the tragic fire at Glenmaluck Road, Carrickmines.
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

As many as 1,300 Traveller families are in need of accommodation, with many living in "inherently unsafe" conditions.

Three years on from the Carrickmines fire tragedy that claimed 10 lives, the co-director of Traveller and Roma lobby group Pavee Point, Martin Collins, said the situation had reached "crisis point".

He also said there was no national monitoring of fire safety and other risks being undertaken.

A September 2016 audit on local authority-provided Traveller accommodation by the Department of Housing found serious fire safety risks, including a lack of working smoke alarms and use of external plug adapters to provide a power supply, with concerns also raised about access for fire services.

While remedial works have been completed in many of the affected units, Traveller groups said many members of the community remain living in sub-standard conditions.

The Department of Housing said there were no outstanding recommendations from the audit to be implemented, adding that city and county councils were tasked with ensuring fire safety.

"Some of the recommendations have not been fully implemented," Mr Collins said. "Many of these sites are inherently and structurally unsafe. What's needed is a major financial investment and upgrade programme.

"There is no national monitoring. We believe 1,200 or 1,300 families are in need of accommodation - it's an absolute crisis."

A report from the Housing Agency last year found many local authorities failed to spend their allocated Traveller housing budgets.

More than 500 families may be living on unauthorised sites, with Traveller groups saying as many as 2,400 people are without suitable accommodation.

The Government has committed to a review of the accommodation programme, which is expected to begin this year.

Irish Independent

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