Galway City Council has said that it will seek a court order to force a number of Traveller families to move from outside its administrative building, if they do not do so voluntarily. 

Galway City Council said that nine Traveller families were issued with formal letters this morning to leave the City Hall Car Park.

The letter warned that the council would commence legal proceedings on Monday if the families fail to leave before then.

Ten caravans are parked at the entrance to City Hall, in the latest stage of a long-running dispute. 

Nine families, made up of 18 adults and 15 children, moved their vehicles and caravans onto the site on College Road after they were told to vacate lands at Galway Airport. 

Last month they were evicted from private property, belonging to Barna Waste, where they had been living.

From there, they moved to a site in Knocknacarra, from which they were also evicted.

They spent one night in Galway Airport before gardaí moved them on, and from there they moved to the City Hall car park.

Jonathan Delaney is among those living outside Galway City Hall with his family. His son is two and his wife is six months pregnant with their second child.

Mr Delaney said that the families had nowhere else to go and they would take any suitable alternative accommodation, whether that would be a halting site or housing.

The council said the families have been offered homeless services and that they are creating a health and safety risk for those entering and leaving City Hall.

It said it has limited capacity to deal with the housing problem in the city. With more than 10,000 people on the housing waiting list at present, the local authority said allocations are made on the basis of proportionality and fairness. 

It said the demands of the nine families cannot override all other families' rights, including Travellers currently on the housing waiting list. 

Describing it as an "illegal encampment", the council said the caravans cannot remain at City Hall and must be removed. It said it will proceed to seek an injunction if they are not removed immediately.