Ireland breaching human rights of Travellers, EU watchdog rules

European committee criticises lack of legal aid for those facing eviction

A European watchdog has ruled that the government is failing to provide sufficient accommodation for Travellers.

The European Committee of Social Rights, a Council of Europe mechanism, found Ireland has breached sections of the European Social Charter relating to family housing. 

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and Irish Traveller Movement lodged a complaint against the Irish state in April 2013.

In its judgement, the EU body criticised the lack of legal aid for and insufficient notice given to Travellers facing eviction.

It also concluded that a number of the country's halting sites are in poor condition with limited access to sanitary facilities. 

Other major problems highlighted included a lack of water, insufficient drainage and issues with refuse collection.

Only 54 out of 1,000 sites identified as being necessary in a 1995 report are currently in operation, the committee also noted. 

The president of the ERRC, Đorđe Jovanović, welcomed the ruling as it was published today.

“Right across Europe, we have legally contested forced evictions of Roma and Travellers, and twice in the last month succeeded in getting the European Court of Human Rights to invoke emergency measures to halt evictions in Romania and Italy," he said.

"Forced evictions are often discriminatory measures creating new forms of hardship for those evicted, and exacerbating a pattern of human rights violations.

"In the case of Ireland, the ECSR noted there is a failure to provide for prior consultation, prior notice, no winter moratorium, and no requirement to provide adequate alternative accommodation."

Barrister David Joyce, who is a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission, told Newstalk Breakfast that the findings point to the failure of local authorities to provide suitable housing.

The full decision is available to read here.