Wednesday 20 June 2007

Council accuses Travellers of undermining M1

FINGAL County Council has spent €82,000 repairing an earthen bank which supported part a public road at a point where it became a flyover over the M1 motorway after claims that Travellers had excavated part of the bank.

In a High Court action aimed at removing some 90 Travellers from the site, it was alleged some Travellers had excavated into the earthen bank and seriously undermined the stability of the road which could have resulted in a road collapse.

It was also claimed that palls of thick black smoke frequently billowed across the motorway because of the Travellers' illegal site at Thomondtown, Lusk, Co Dublin.

In a counterclaim, the defendant Travellers allege the council is in breach of its duty to provide them with accommodation.

John Gallagher SC, for the council, said Dublin fire brigade had been called to the 1.2 acre site about nine times since January last.

He said the burning of waste was creating a significant risk to health and safety. The site was also completley unsuitable for the more than 90 people living there with no toilets or sanitation and there were about eight mobile homes there since November 2005.

The action, which continues today before Mr Justice Michael Peart, has been brought against nine members of the Travelling community: Martin Gavin, Sam Gavin, Michael Reilly, Arthur Purcell, Robert Gavin, Terry Mongan, Patrick Gavin, Douglas Purcell and Paul Gavin.

In a statement of claim, the council alleges the defendants had intimidated, obstructed and assaulted council employees from entering on the lands and that officers of the fire brigade had refused to enter the lands because of the nature of materials being burned and because of fears for their safety.

John Rogers SC, for the Travellers, has lodged a counterclaim alleging the defendants were tenants of Dublin City Council on St Dominick's Park halting site for over 25 years and plans had been finalised to provide them with group housing on the site.

It is claimed that, in 2005, they were attacked by another Traveller family. They said they had fled to Belfast where they stayed for a few months but came back to Dublin and moved onto the site in question.

Ann O'Loughlin
Irish Independent

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