Louth council appraising Woodland Park halting site for housing project

Thursday 21 January 2016 06.45
Louth County Council said it is continuing to work with residents and representatives to meet their accommodation needs
Louth County Council said it is continuing to work with residents and representatives to meet their accommodation needs

The Minister of State with responsibility for Housing has said Louth County Council is commencing a capital appraisal of the Woodland Park site in Dundalk with a view to potentially developing it as a permanent Traveller-specific housing project.

23 families are currently being evicted from the illegal site.

Speaking in the Dáil, Minister Paudie Coffey said the council had planned a number of meetings over the next couple of days with potential partners who may assist in that regard.

He added that local Traveller Accomodation Consultative Committee was due to convene tomorrow to commence the review of the Traveller Accomodation Programme in the area. 

Families who are being evicted from the site say that neither of the short-term solutions proposed by Louth County Council last night are workable.

A number of families met with an auctioneer appointed by the council this mourning, however they say they were told no suitable accommodation was available.

The families have also raised concerns about proposals to relocate them to halting sites outside of Dundalk.

Their concerns include the distance from where their children are in school, isolation, the fact that families may be split up and that one of the halting sites will not be ready for a number of weeks.

Local solicitor Eleanor Kelly, who represents a number of the families, sent a letter to the council this afternoon highlighting her concerns and requesting further discussions.

Meanwhile, the remaining mobile homes at the site are being voluntarily removed by residents.

The final mobile home will be removed tomorrow morning at 8am.

Louth County Council is accommodating five families in B&Bs until Friday.

A spokesperson for Louth County Council said that a letting agency appointed to facilitate the sourcing of short to medium-term rental accommodation for families evicted from Woodland Park is "actively working with all letting agencies across Louth to identify available rental properties".

The spokesperson added that contact details of the people who attended the office of the letting agent today were taken by the agent's staff, and they will be notified of available properties when they become available.

As of of this evening, Louth County Council is also awaiting a response from the Traveller representatives in respect of halting site accommodation that was proposed at yesterday's meeting.