Louth County Council has confirmed that it is to refurbish and reopen the unofficial halting site that a number of Traveller families were evicted from earlier this year.

Spokesperson for the families, Rebecca Quinn, described the announcement as a "a 360 degree u-turn."

In a statement, the council said that it has received "approval in principle" from the Department of the Environment for funding "to refurbish the existing halting site at Woodland Park in Dundalk."

It added: "The department has expressed a concern that this will be the third refurbishment that will be funded by public monies since the site was first developed. 

"In each case, the works were required due to vandalism."

The site was closed as an official halting site in 2008 due to what the council says was a lack of interest among the local Traveller community.

The council said the families were removed from it in January due to concerns "over site safety, including poor sanitation."

It said that since then it has carried out safety works, costing €100,000 to remove 600 tonnes of domestic waste, address a rodent infestation and "all dangerous structures, apparatus and trees have also been removed."

The local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee has endorsed the refurbishment proposal which will cost a further €250,000, the council said.

There will also be a review of the Traveller Accommodation Programme.

Ms Quinn said there will be 14 bays in the refurbished Woodland Park and as there are 23 families affected "the big question is who will get to go back in."

She said that the council had been petitioned in 2010 and 2011 to reopen the site and "it is shocking that the families had to be subjected to this before they would reopen it."

The council said ten families are currently in emergency accommodation provided by the council. 

"Three offers of emergency accommodation of vacant dwellings were made but none have been taken up," it added.