Opening Statement to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Key Issues Affecting the Traveller Community – March 21st, 2024.

On March 21st, CLM’s Managing Solicitor Jane O’ Sullivan and Housing Solicitor Mary Heavey were delighted to join FLAC’s Sinead Lucey and Christopher Bowes BL at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Key Issues affecting the Traveller Community. Many thanks to Senator Eileen Flynn for inviting us to speak on such vital issues. You can read our opening statement in full below:

(please see PDF below for full version):

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In our work as an independent law centre, we see a huge unmet legal need for advice and representation to members of the Traveller community, particularly in the area of accommodation. Last year, we established a dedicated free legal advice clinic for members of the Traveller community who are experiencing accommodation problems.


The objective of this legal advice clinic is to promote advice, advocacy and representation of people experiencing social housing issues, homelessness or risk of homelessness within the Traveller community. More broadly, this legal advice clinic aims to effect greater and more meaningful access to justice for Travellers around accommodation issues, and to attempt to reduce impediments to that access. We also work with and assist Travellers in a broad range of areas where they are disproportionately affected, including access to education and services, and employment.

The key issues presenting to our outreach legal advice clinic are as follows:


1. The failure of local authorities to provide access to emergency accommodation: This has left clients sleeping in cars, in tents or in dangerously overcrowded or grossly unsuitable living conditions;


2. The failure of local authorities to provide Traveller specific accommodation, and inadequate standards of Traveller specific accommodation: Many clients have been on housing lists for many years, and in the interim, are living in inadequate and substandard accommodation, sometimes without running water, heating and with poor sanitation.


3. The lack of transparency and consistency in decision-making of local authorities: For example, some local authorities incorrectly apply social housing support eligibility criteria to accessing emergency accommodation. Another consistent theme in our work is the lack of fair procedures in how certain local authorities carry out Garda vetting of social housing applicants.


Discrimination under Section 19 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act and issues related education have also presented at our clinics.


We have provided detailed case studies of these issues in the Note appended to our Opening Statement.