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To: Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing
Protect the Traveller Community During Covid19
Local authorities need to ensure that every family has access to running water, toilets & electricity and where possible extra space for social isolating.
Traveller accommodation including group housing and halting sites need to be given the same priority focus as homeless hubs etc to support families protect themselves, to enable families to apply government guidelines re social distancing and to self isolate if required.
In areas where there is overcrowding and there is space within the area blocked off by the local authorities through the erection of fencing or borders etc, this space MUST be opened up.
In many halting sites, local authorities have blocked off yards and bays where families once lived. Many of these areas already have services in the grounds to facilitate the immediate installation of sanitation units providing toilets and running water at a minimum and the provision of safe electricity to families.
Local authorities must open up these spaces, yards or bays to allow families to lessen the overcrowding.
They must install additional sanitation units to ensure families who need independent access to toilets and running water have them.
They must provide space for small mobile homes to allow people to self isolate if diagnosed with or suspected of having Covid19.
Why is this important?
The overcrowding on halting sites is widely recorded along with the stark health inequalities for Travellers in Ireland.
The Traveller community and the grave statistics which reflect the reality of life and health for Travellers must be taken into consideration in government planning for the most vulnerable groups.
If this is not done there is no way to prevent the spread of covid 19 and unnecessary deaths will occur. Deaths can be prevented the local authority have the responsibility and the powers to enable this and MUST act immediately.
HSE staff are been redeployed across the country to focus on areas of priority and rightly so. However, this redeployment and investment in resources must also include the Traveller community.
In areas where there are numbers of Traveller families living without access to supports such as primary health care programmes additional HSE resources must be allocated to provide basic information, support and assistance.
One such area is Labre Park in Dublin. The oldest and one of the largest halting sites in the country. Home to almost 50 families and a population of 200 men, women and children with no primary health care programme and no supports provided by the local authority to address this escalating crisis.
There is a disaster waiting to happen in overcrowded halting sites, prevent unnecessary deaths, provide the space and the basic human rights of water and sanitation NOW
# Traveller Lives Matter