Growing anger over plans for ‘Traveller’ housing

A city councillor has claimed there is growing anger among communities throughout the city at what they feel is years of their local areas being neglected and forgotten about.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said that the mounting objections to a total of 17 houses planned for ‘infill’ sites in Castlepark, Ballinfoile and Corrib Park were the result of a building resentment among people about how they have been treated.

Chairman of Galway City Council’s Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) on Housing, Cllr McDonnell said that the biggest complaint was that local communities had not been consulted at all about the plans by the Council. He recently attended a meeting of about 100 residents of Castlepark, at which strong objections were aired towards plans for three houses on green areas within the estate.

“We have a shortage of housing in this city, we do need housing, but drawing up plans to put in these houses without consultation with residents’ associations in the areas, is not the way to go about things — it’s just insulting to local residents.

“Having been at the meeting of Castle Park residents, I believe that a lot of this is not just about rejecting the houses, but the result of anger among people in these areas who feel that they have been neglected, in terms of their estates being looked after.”

Cllr McDonnell said that residents also feared that the houses would be allocated to Travellers, a concern based on what he said was their experience with the activities of some Travellers already living there.

“A number of the Travellers are carrying out business from their houses, repairing cars and selling cars. The parts they take out of cars are left in alleyways for the council to clean up. This is not proper management of an estate.

“Cars with no tax or insurance are left parked on the side of the road for months on end. Other guys have stables at the backs of the houses for horses, many of which are also causing problems. Some 80% of the Travellers in Galway are on the east side of the city and that is one of local people’s worries, that it’s going to be Travellers put in these houses, bringing with them the same kind of problems.”

Cllr McDonnell said that not all of the problems were caused by Travellers as there were a few other residents who just did not care about their neighbours or their neighbourhood.

But he stressed that unless there was a complete change in the Council’s attitude towards local consultation before a plan was put to paper, then “I will have difficulty in voting for these houses and at this moment in time I am definitely supporting the residents”.