Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC)
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) have put a review by Kilkenny County Council in relation to Traveller-specific accommodation under the microscope.
In response to the review, requested by the IHREC, the Commission have made recommendations to the local authority on the matter.
Kilkenny County Council states in their Equality Review that its assessment of housing need is specifically tailored to meet the needs of Traveller family applicants, taking cognisance of possible comprehension and literacy difficulties.
The Council identifies an apparent ‘ongoing challenge to balance the national objectives and meeting the identified accommodation needs of members of the Traveller community who are approved housing applicants’ in their account.
It is the contention of the IHREC that this challenge would be obviated if transparent methods for the collection and recording of Traveller accommodation preferences were adopted.
“Accurate collecting and recording of multiple preferences could rule out these potential underlying reasons and give the Council a more robust basis for its record of accommodation preferences,” the report states.
“This in turn would create a more solid foundation for future Traveller-specific accommodation policies.”
Kilkenny County Council notes in their report that where Traveller-specific accommodation is provided, there are high maintenance costs thereafter.
“Funding and staff support services are expended in areas such as waste management, fire services, control of dogs and horses and estate management,” the Council notes.
It is referenced by the IHREC that the Council does seem to have a close working relationship with several Traveller representative bodies and commended the Council for actively engaging in supporting the Traveller community in respect of care for horses.
The IHREC recommends that the Council explore the idea of establishing a forum between the local authority and local Travellers and Traveller organisations and track the experiences of the Traveller community in seeking to secure accommodation in the private rented sector.
It also recommends the development of a more transparent recording of the methodology of collection and data obtained in the annual count of members of the Traveller community and advises that the Traveller-specific Tenant Liaison Officer has a drop-in or phone clinic available.
Several more recommendations for improving local authority outcomes were made in the report, available here.
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