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Adams describes underspend on Traveller accommodation in Louth as ‘unacceptable’

Adams describes underspend on Traveller accommodation in Louth as ‘unacceptable’

Local TD Gerry Adams has called on Louth County Council to urgently address what he descriped as an “unacceptable under spend” in the funding allocated for Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019.

Figures released to his party Sinn Féin last week show that the local authority failed to draw down any of the €133,000 allocated to it in 2019 from the Traveller Accommodation Programme.

Deputy Adams said Travellers were being neglected by the lack of funds accessed by Louth County Council for accommodation and upgrades in recent years.

He said: “Last week in response to a parliamentary question from my party colleague Eoin O’Broin TD Minister Damian English revealed that Louth County Council has failed to draw down a single euro of the €133,000 allocated in 2019 from the Traveller Accommodation Programme.

“In 2018 Louth County Council drew down a mere €3,810 despite being eligible for €17,039 for Traveller Accommodation Programme funding. This is unacceptable.

“Under the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have a statutory responsibility for assessing the accommodation needs of Travellers. They are also obligated to prepare and implement Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas.

“This funding is not just for new accommodation, it is also intended for use for upgrades, improvements and fire safety measures. Anyone who has seen the conditions existing on some Traveller sites will be astounded by the refusal to use this funding.

“Earlier this year I made a detailed submission to Louth County Council’s Traveller Accommodation Programme which will run from 2019 until 2024. In it I urged Louth County Council to be ambitious in its new programme and to address the historic under spend in the provision of Traveller accommodation.

“Over the lifetime of the 2014 – 2018 Traveller Accommodation Programmes, Louth County Council drew down just €675,962 to fund its traveller accommodation plan. Successive Traveller Accommodation Programmes targets, including for group housing accommodation, have not been met.”

Deputy Adams said the problem was nationwide.

“Louth County Council is not alone. The figures from across the state make for depressing reading. 24 local councils have either spent nothing or have under spent available funding. As we approach the end of the year only €4 million of the available €13 million has been spent. This is evidence of local authorities failing in the statutory duty to provide Traveller Accommodation programmes.

“Louth County Council and other Councils must honour their statutory responsibilities. Minister Damien English must also implement the recommendations of the expert group tasked with reviewing the Traveller Accommodation Programme without delay. He should also examine whether legal action should be taken against those Councils failing to meet their statutory responsibilities,” said Adams.