Traveller legal issues cost council €90,000

This article is from page 8 of the 2012-07-31 edition of The Clare People. OCR mistakes are to be expected so download the original SWF or the rendered page 8 JPG

CLARE County Council spent a total of € 90,000 in two separate legal battles to remove illegal Traveller encampments from Barefield and Ennis.

The costs were disclosed yesterday by County Manager Tom Coughlan who said changes to primary legislation are urgently required to allow local authorities and the gardaí to deal more effectively and swiftly with illegal encampments.

He told the July meeting of the Clare Joint Policing Committee that it had cost the council € 40,000 to take out an injunction against a group of Travellers in Barefield.

He said the cost of pursuing a similar process against a group of Travellers parked on the Ennis bypass had come to € 50,000.

Mr Coughlan added, “We can’t continue to spend that type of money on moving Travellers on. We don’t have the money to keep doing this.

“Without changes to primary legislation, we will not be able to deal with a very unsatisfactory situation,” he said.

Chief Supt of the Clare Garda Division, John Kerin said gardaí could only move on encampments in certain circumstances.

He suggested that on-the-spot fines could be one way of dealing with the issues.

He added, “But if 30 or 40 caravans are in a place where they are in breach of the law, I don’t have the resources to deal with it. I don’t have a place for 30 caravans. I don’t have a way of bringing them away.”

JPC Chairman Cllr Joe Arkins (FG) said it is now commonly accepted that existing legislation is “deficient”.

He said the council had been forced to engage in a “very expensive game of cat and mouse”.

He added, “Unfortunately, there are a group of people in this country for whom there are no consequences, or that’s at least how it seems.”

Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) said communities in Barefield and Clarecastle are “burned out” from illegal encampments setting up on the side of the road.

Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) said similar problems had arisen in East Clare. He called for changes in legislation to allow for the issuing of on-thespot fines.

Cllr Cathal Crowe (FF) said the council and the National Road Authority (NRA) need to pursue offenders. He said, “Not only is it illegal but they are a very serious traffic hazard.”

Cllr Pay Hayes (FF) said communities in Clare feel “under threat” from encampments.

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