WTCDP responds with dismay to the disastrous own-goal decision by all Waterford Metropolitan Councillors apart from two, to veto the proposed improvements to the Carrickpherish group housing development (appreciation to Cllr Seamus Ryan (Lab) and Cllr Susan Gallagher (Greens) for supporting the development).
Whilst we can inevitably point to the array of almost certainly populist, and quite possibly racist motivations behind this collective decision, we prefer instead to draw attention to the baffling lack of logic in this retrograde act.
In 2004, the then Waterford City Council completed the three group housing dwellings that currently exist in Carrickpherish, allocating them to three extended Waterford Traveller families. Quite naturally in the past 17 years, the young members of these families grew up and started their own families, however, this most foreseeable population growth has been ignored by Waterford Council as they have continuously failed to deliver on their approved Traveller Accommodation Plans.
It is these young families, having overspilled the group housing where they grew up, who are currently living in overcrowded, inadequate, and unhealthy conditions and in desperate need of the new bays.
We ask these Councillors, where do they now expect these residents to live? A shortage of social housing, and the near impossibility of Travellers finding a private landlord that will rent to them means that the families are going nowhere.
This short-term virtue signalling of the Councillors about the problems in the area, which are more often than not implied to be wholly by the hands of the Traveller residents, has done nothing but block Council officials from progressing logical solutions to the overcrowding in the group housing area, and in turn, improvements to the wider area.
Councillors have knowingly and with impunity, condemned families with babies and young children to live in deplorable conditions. Waterford Councillors have created, and are prepared to sustain miserable, degrading living conditions which are far outside any housing standards set by the Department of Environment, HSE living standards for health, and TUSLA standards for child safety and development. We believe this calls for an inquiry.
The brazenness of their transgression of such Statutory standards for living is further compounded by the fact they have voted against their own officials, their own approved Traveller Accommodation Plans, National Policy, and in some cases, their own party policies (yes, we’re looking at you, Sinn Fein).
They simply don’t care about these residents and will break any protocol to pander to popular opinion.
WTCDP believes this level of mischief and hypocrisy demonstrates that most local representatives are unfit to make sensible decisions on Traveller housing, and we call on the Government to set up an independent Traveller accommodation agency as a matter of urgency.