Statement: Consult the community, then build the homes needed

Clare Public Participation Network (PPN) was concerned and disappointed to see once more in Clare a high level of publicity, social media commentary and intensive engagement from local and national politicians on the issue of an unofficial location being used as a living space by members of a Traveller family. We are disappointed that we never see such concerted effort towards the provision of suitable homes for the Traveller community in Clare.

While housing is a pressing issue for a large percentage of the population (as discussed in our 2022 report ‘Towards an Anti-Poverty Strategy for Clare’ and highlighted again in recent focus groups with those experiencing socio-economic exclusion), the Traveller community faces particular challenges in accessing both public and private accommodation. These challenges include discrimination, marginalisation and difficulty in accessing online services, which has resulted in disproportionate levels of homelessness, overcrowding and the forced occupation of unsuitable sites.

This is compounded in Clare by an apparent refusal on the part of the local authority to use resources available to it for the provision of suitable homes for Travellers. In the last and current Traveller Accommodation Programmes in Clare no new houses, developments or sites were planned or delivered. This is despite the local authority itself indicating that in 2021 more than 50% of those presenting as homeless were from the Traveller community – a community that accounts for less than 1% of the population in the county. This compares poorly even with the already concerning national figure of 11% of those presenting as homeless being from the Traveller community.

In 2021 the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) published an equality review on the provision of Traveller accommodation by each local authority. The issues that emerged included underspends of allocated funds, poor information gathering and a lack of identification of true accommodation preferences.

Earlier this year (2023) the Council of Europe found that the Irish State continues to be in breach of its human rights obligations to provide culturally appropriate accommodation to Travellers, drawing attention to our repeated failure to meet our own commitments.

In 2022 the Supreme Court overturned an interlocutory injunction that would have evicted a Traveller family who were occupying a Council-owned site in Clare, stating that the Council had “arguably failed” to meet their duty to offer suitable alternative accommodation. It is no surprise that a policy of evicting Travellers from one unsuitable site to another has failed everyone – as noted in a recent report from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, ‘Where are Travellers meant to live?’ Where are Travellers meant to live? – Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice in Ireland (

Further to this, as part of its commentary on Clare’s Draft County Development Plan, the Office of the Planning Regulator noted the failure by Clare County Council to identify or zone ANY particular areas for Traveller accommodation in the plan and made a recommendation that this should be rectified before adoption of the plan.

On a more positive note, Clare PPN/CSN has welcomed progress made by Clare Traveller Community Development Project in gaining agreement from the local authority for a comprehensive, county-wide, peer-led Traveller Housing Needs Assessment to be carried out – this is badly needed to ensure that Travellers themselves can have the time and space to discuss what is needed and what is suitable for their families. Once this has been concluded we need to make sure the commitment is there from the local authority to ensure the provision of these homes and that the work to deliver, purchase or allocated them is done as a priority. We reiterate that substantial funds ARE available from national government for this work – what has been missing is the necessary commitment to get it done.

We call for this work and this approach to be supported by all in the county, especially including elected representative and anyone in leadership positions in community organisations and our wider communities themselves. We hope that this new approach marks a change for the Traveller community in Clare, with new generations able to experience stability, security and a sense of belonging to the wider community, without losing or abandoning their precious and significant Traveller culture and heritage. We are calling on our local authority and elected representatives to stop objecting to Traveller accommodation and to begin advocating for it.

Supporting this statement are the following community groups in Clare:

  • Quare Clare LGBTQ+
  • Women’s Collective Ireland (WCI) Clare
  • Community Action Tenants Union (CATU) Clare
  • Social Inclusion member groups of Clare PPN
  • Clare Solidarity Network




Share This