STAG submission by nuhman10

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									                       STAG SUBMISSION
                        I.INTRODUCTION


Southside Traveller Action Group is a representative body working
since 1984 in partnership with Travellers. The approach to our
work is based on principals of human rights and community
development. Our Voluntary Management Committee consists of
members of the local Traveller community in Dun Laoghaire
Rathdown and interested community organisation stakeholders.

The Advocacy and Accommodation worker has been employed by
Southside Traveller Action Group as part of the Better Services for
Travellers Co-ordination, with supports from the Southside
Partnership. The work of the Southside Traveller Action Group is
guided by the Strategic Plan 2007-09, as approved by the Voluntary
Management Committee.

A key area of work since the outset of the Strategic Plan 2007-09
has been in relation to Traveller accommodation. This entails
working within a participatory empowering strategy to advocate
with and on behalf of the Traveller community and to support the
community to engage with county council officials and relevant
bodies to further accommodation issues.

This submission aims to provide a contextualisation of the process
carried out by Southside Traveller Action Group to influence the
Traveller Accommodation Programme (2009-13) for Dun Laoghaire
Rathdown County Council. To fulfil this objective, Southside
Traveller Action Group conducted six focus groups. The
recommendations from these groups are included in this
submission, as they were in the “Submission towards the
elaboration of the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown’s Traveller
Accommodation Programme (2009-2013)”. On December 11, a
consultation was held at the Southside Traveller Action Group
offices with participation from the Traveller Accommodation Unit of
the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Travellers and other
interested community stakeholders.




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This submission will:

      1) Outline the submission process and the process for the
         adoption of the Traveller Accommodation Programme for
         2009-13
      2) Provide an analysis of the indigenous clause
      3) Outline recommendations for change for the final TAP
      4) Conclusions


It is important as a background to highlight the following treaties that
Ireland has ratified internationally:

      International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
      Rights Article 11.1 reads
      The State Parties to the present Covenant recognise the right of
      everyone to an adequate standard of living for him/herself and
      their family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and
      to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The State
      Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of
      this right, recognising to this effect the essential importance of
      international co-operation based on free consent.

      International Convention on the Rights of the Child,
      Article 27.1 and 27.3 reads
      State Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of
      living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral
      and social development.

      State Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within
      their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents
      and others responsible for the child to implement this right and
      shall in the case of need provide material assistance and support
      programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and
      housing.




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   I. The submission process and adoption of TAP
                       (2009-13)

The Department of the Environment issued in August 2008 a
directive and guidelines for the preparation and adoption of a new
Traveller Accommodation Programme (TAP) 2009-13, which will
operate from 1st of January to 31st December 2013.

September 9, 2008 – Public call for submissions of the assessment
of need and in support of the elaboration of the draft TAP.

September 2008 – Assessment of need to include current and
projected needs to December 31, 2013.

October 9, 2008 – Southside Traveller Action Group’s initial
submission filed with the Council.

October 22, 2008 – Public notice of draft Accommodation
Programme 2009-13 which having been prepared must be
advertised and made available for public inspection, giving two
months for public submissions until December 22, 2008.

December 22, 2008 – closing date for submissions in relation to
draft TAP 2009-2013.

January 30, 2008 – County Manager must consider all submissions
and bring a report to the Council no later than January 30, 2009.
This report must also outline any amendments or alterations which
are being proposed between the original draft TAP and the TAP
which is being presented to the Council on January 30, 2009.

January 30 – April 30, 2009 – the Council must consider the draft
TAP as presented by the Manager and formally adopt a Traveller
Accommodation Programme no later than April 30, 2009 as a
reserved function.




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                       II. Indigenous policy


Dun Laoghaire Rathdown’s indigenous clause states that:

    “It is Dun Laoghaire Rathdown’s County Council’s Policy to
    provide Traveller specific Accommodation only for the county’s
    indigenous Travelling Community. The Council regard a
    Traveller household as “indigenous” where the household has
    been permanently resident in the county for at least three
    years immediately prior to the adoption of the Dun Laoghaire
    Rathdown County Council’s Traveller Accommodation
    Programme 2009-2013” (Draft DLR TAP 2009-2013).


The Irish Traveller Movement (ITM) has explored this topic in detail
and has issued a response statement to indigenous clauses. It states
that:
“The concept behind indigenous clauses is largely unethical to Traveller
identity and enforces a settled perspective on Traveller
accommodation”. It goes on to say that “creating a test that can only
be satisfied by pursuing a sedentary way of life shows how even
Traveller specific legislation can be subverted by a settled bias. In
reality, indigenous clauses are discriminatory against Travellers as
they impose an added requirement on Travellers when seeking
accommodation, which would not be imposed on a settled community
when seeking housing. This is contrary to the Equal Status Act 2000
and also the European Race directive. As was decided in the High
Court judgment case of O’ Donoghue v Clare Co. Council, an
indigenous clause cannot be the sole criterion on which families are
refused accommodation. In light of this the ITM submit that Travellers
should have their accommodation needs assessed, whatever the
length of time they reside in a local authority area. Local Authorities
can then apply established criteria such as length of time on the
housing list in deciding the priority given to their application”
(Submission for new Traveller Accommodation Programmes TAP’s
2005-2008, Irish Traveller Movement).

Consequently, we would recommend that this clause be removed from
the final version of the TAP 2009-2013.


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          III. Policy/Strategy Statement Traveller
                   Accommodation Programme

The Traveller Accommodation Programme should describe an over-
riding policy to the implementation of the TAP 2009-2013. In our
previous submission, we suggested that the LTACC should be
consulted on this statement. The statement should set out equality
commitments to Travellers. This would ensure that the Dun Laoghaire
Rathdown’s TAP 2009-2013 is clearly based on respect for Traveller
culture and a commitment to provide accommodation to Travellers
based on their specific needs. Please see referenced submission on
page 3 for a proposed policy statement.


                     V. Assessment of Need

In STAG’s previous submission, concern was raised regarding the strict
and short timetable for completing this step. It was pointed out at the
December 2008 consultation that for some Travellers literacy issues,
which may contribute to the low response. Considering this, STAG
requested that additional efforts be made to contact those families
that did not respond to the written questionnaire. To have a real
assessment of need, it would be essential to take the points raised
here prior to publishing any amendments or changes in the draft to be
presented to the Council.

               VI. Allocation of Accommodation

To facilitate the DLR County Council’s letting policy to Traveller specific
accommodation including Group Housing and Halting Sites,
consultation measures with existing tenants of such accommodation
sites need to be incorporated. One other point to be raised is a
concern that management issues with existing Traveller specific
accommodation should not be a reason to delay or postpone the
development of new accommodation (eg Rathmichael). We would have
the view that this practice would also be contrary to Equal Status
legislation.




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VII. Provision of Accommodation for Nomadic families

Transient halting sites, as defined in the Housing (Traveller
Accommodation) Act 1998 refers to sites for Travellers with limited
facilities for use other than their normal place of residence.

The 1998 Act places a specific obligation on the local authority to
provide for the annual patterns of movement of families. This not only
requires Local Authorities to refrain from taking measures that would
inhibit Nomadism but also places a positive obligation on the Local
Authority to provide services to facilitate and respect the needs
associated with Nomadism.
In the Memorandum on the preparation, adoption and implementation
of local authority Traveller accommodation programmes 2009 – 2013,
the Minister states the following:

   Regard must also be had to the need for transient sites i.e. for
   stays of short duration as distinct from sites or parks for caravans
   for use as a permanent home. Programmes should elaborate on this
   item in some detail including the results of this aspect of the
   assessment of needs for sites which the Minister has directed
   should be made in connection with the preparation of the new
   programme (see para. 7 above). Sites traditionally used at certain
   times of the year; sites for transient families, and facilities for
   regular visitors to residents of permanent accommodation at
   particular times of the year should be covered here.

In our previous submission, STAG reminded the County Council that it
has a statutory obligation to address the provision of transient sites in
its 5-year TAPs. In the TAP 2005-08, it states that the Council will
examine with the three other Dublin local authorities the possibility of
taking a joint approach to the provision of a transient halting site. In
our initial submission, information was requested to be included in the
review of the 2005-08 which was not provided in the draft TAP 2009-
13, namely a detailed description of meetings held, recommendations
made and obstacles encountered be included regarding what had been
proposed in 2005.

STAG believes that transient site provision is an integral part of our
local authority’s accommodation plan; that its location and services
should be negotiated with potential users and local Travellers and
Traveller organisations. As stated in section 7.2 of the draft TAP 2009-
2013, visiting Travellers are required to reside on a transient site, once

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it becomes available. Where will Travellers visiting their extended
families and friends be able to visit and travel in the meanwhile.

Finally and under consideration of respect for nomadic culture, STAG
recommends that the current restriction that exists for families
residing in group housing sites where they are prohibited from housing
their mobile caravans be lifted, and a policy be put into place that
permits housing mobile caravans on site as is permitted by residents in
council estates.

                       VIII. Miscellenaous

In section 9.3 of the draft TAP, annual targets over the next five years
are laid out. STAG would recommend that in the final version the
actual sites to be concluded be named as part of the targets so
improved long-term planning can occur – inclusive from the Traveller
community itself.

Great concern has been raised since 2005 regarding free mobility in
and out of sites. In reality and in just the last 12 month period,
ambulance services have not been able to access a site four times.
The degree to which Travellers are involved in the development of
accommodation options and supported to play a full and meaningful
role in the management of such, is central to building and sustaining a
successful Traveller Accommodation Strategy. Benefits of tenant
participation include the generation of greater ownership within
communities, resulting in tenants becoming more involved in the
sustainability of their overall living environment; encourages dialogue
between the housing authority officials and residents; moves the
operational context from complaints to a plan of action based on need
and develops an understanding of Traveller issues and builds new
relationships between all involved. STAG would consequently suggest
that as part of the tenant participation in site management project that
the Council considers offering Travellers interested in co-operating and
working closely with the Council the opportunity to actually have
control over the key to their barriers – as is common practice in other
counties.

 IX. Consultation, conclusions and recommendations

As part of the process to prepare for STAG’s two submissions on the
Traveller Accommodation Programme (TAP 2009-2013), six focus
groups were held with Travellers and a consultation meeting was held

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in December 2008. From these two different types of consultation, the
following recommendations are being submitted as an integral part to
this submission, such that it presents direct recommendations from
the Traveller Community.

Recommendations made by Traveller adults
We need homework clubs, playgrounds and meeting rooms on site
grounds.
Travellers living on site should be employed as caretakers with
responsibility of liaising with the Council and the right to hold the key
to the barrier.
Travellers living on site should be consulted when Council considering
placing new family on site.
Families want to live together on group-housing sites – spaces
provided for older children to remain on site.
More CCTV cameras as it decreases dumping.
Information on programmes that Council offers, e.g. purchasing home,
mortgages.
We want to meet with Council to discuss the 2009-2013 programme.
We want to meet with Council to discuss sites at design stage
(especially families to live on site).
Council needs to understand that we live together as extended
families so we need to be permitted to be able to physically extend our
homes as our families grows – so that we can continue to live together
as a group.
On sites, we need more park (green areas) playground for children.
Council needs to consult with the families already living on a site when
considering moving in a new family.
Camper vans/trailers/mobile caravans must be allowed on group-
housing sites.
Ballyogan Grove should continue as Traveller-specific accommodation
site.
Cabinteely and Glendruid sites should be refurbished as soon as
possible.

Recommendations made by Traveller young people
We like living near the shops
We like living near the church
We want to have space for our horses
We want to have our own bedrooms (space to have privacy)




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STAG would vehemently request the removal of the indigenous clause.

STAG would recommend that equality commitments be included in a
policy/strategy statement for the implementation of this Programme.

STAG desires an improved contact rate for the assessment of need,
specifically with regard to families living in private-rental
accommodation.

STAG would recommend that the Transient site preparation cannot be
postponed until completion of permanent accommodation as that
approach ignores the distinctiveness of the Traveller community’s
Nomadic identity and the reality of Travellers’ travelling to Dun
Laoghaire Rathdown.

STAG proposes that provision should be made for storage of mobile
caravans on group housing sites.

The failure of the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown authority to fulfill its
Implementation Programme 2005-08 has amounted to a deficit of
thirty nine Traveller-specific units and non-completion of 11 of the 13
proposed projects. STAG calls upon the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown
County Council for greater monitoring, intermittent evaluation and
problems solving assessments to be carried out during the lifetime of
the TAP 2009-13.

STAG would endorse an external evaluation of the past two Traveller
Accommodation Programmes, (2000-04 & 2005-08) to identify good
practice and obstacles to the completion of those programmes.




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