WTCDP welcomes the news that FLAC Traveller Legal Service, on behalf of Ellen Delaney and Mary O’Reilly, has been successful in their legal bid to quash the decision of Waterford Council, taken on March 15th, 2021, to veto the development of a 7 Bay Halting Site at Carrickpherish, Waterford.
Ms. Delaney and Ms. O’Reilly are young mothers who, along with other families at Carrickpherish, continue to live in overcrowded, hazardous, and unacceptable conditions with their children. Waterford Council’s refusal to implement the development, (which was approved by the Council in early 2020 as part of its own legally adopted Traveller Accommodation Plan) was based on erroneous assumptions and faulty reasoning, breaching the Housing Code and human rights laws.
Notwithstanding the intolerable and dehumanising conditions still endured by the Carrickpherish families, the Council decision of March 15th has far-reaching implications. In our view, with the exception of Cllr. Ryan and the then Cllr. Gallagher, the absolute dereliction of duty highlighted by the Councillors’ populist move to block suitable accommodation for members of the Traveller community, has been made painfully clear in this case. This strengthens growing calls to remove responsibility of Traveller accommodation from Local Authorities, as elected members cannot be entrusted to implement their own plans it seems.
Almost as concerning, in this case the Councillors seem to have no grasp on the startling amount of public money their reckless decision has cost the people of Waterford. Waterford Council’s liability for both set of legal costs, and those of Ms. Delaney and Ms. O’Reilly are not the only embarrassment here. Taking into consideration the high and ongoing costs of the temporary groundworks and sanitation provisions required at the scheme, the possible need for re-tendering of the work, and the increase in the cost of construction materials in the prevailing months since the development was vetoed, the whole caper will end up an extremely costly one.
This considerable and avoidable waste of Council money is even more of an own goal than the original decision of the Councillors to vote against their own approved Traveller Accommodation Plan in March, particularly in light of the fact that the development they have tried to veto won’t cost the Council a red cent, as it will be funded directly by the Department of Housing Local Government and Local Heritage.
We hope there is enough decency in Waterford Council for this fiasco to provoke at least a few red faces tonight.