Tipperary County Council has this morning sent a clear message that they will not be providing additional land at Cabra, Thurles to house horses for members of the travelling community who are due to take up residence in a new €1.8 million development opposite their current location on Cabra Bridge.
This ongoing and contentious matter was debated in full at the meeting having been raised by Councillor David Doran who labelled the delay in moving in to the state-of-the-art houses, “a thundering disgrace”. He went on to criticise the process and received much support from other members of the council who spoke on the issue as well.
However, Director of Services with responsibility for housing, Sinead Carr, told members that housing has been provide by agreement with the members of the travelling community in the locality and the site they are currently occupying would be cleared once the homes are occupied. The council, she said, is in the business of providing housing for families, not accommodation for horses. But, she added that the council would work with the families to try and facilitate alternative arrangements for them by arranging consultations with other stakeholders.
“These people have a particular love of horses and we understand that, but we will not be providing accommodation for horses. It's as simple as that,” she said, adding that the houses were designed specifically for the families involved and not for anybody else.
The new houses have cost in the region of €300,000 each to construct and are fully completed. However, they are currently locked up and further negotiations will be necessary to work through the complex issues which have materialised. There has been much public anger in relation to this and the issue has hit the national headlines also.
Cllr Doran also questioned the cost of a perimeter wall, while Cllr Jim Ryan said that this is a real embarrassment to the council, eventhough the problem is not of the local authorities making. He added that sensitivities, culture and political correctness have to be put to one side now to sort out the problems.
Cllrs John Hogan and Seamus Hanafin were both part of the Traveller Accommodation Committee back in 2004/2005 when work commenced on getting a deal on the table. The work was complicated, detailed and complex, both said, and the same is still true to this day. However, Cllr Hogan said that the agreement is in place and should be honoured, while Cllr Hanafin said that putting a deadline on occupation would not be helpful at this stage, considering the issues which need to be worked through. This deadline had been called for by a number of members.
Cllr Sean Ryan said that housing remains one of the biggest difficulties facing the local authority and offered the view that the council cannot afford to leave these new houses vacant.
The six Cabra houses are completed to the highest spec, but remain unoccupied. It is likely that they will stay that way for the foreseeable future.