The Children’s Office ombudsman continues to receive reports of driving children across the state living in appalling conditions following the release of a damning report of a break in the city of Cork in May.
Dr. Niall Muldoon calls on Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Housing Secretary Darragh O’Brien to help identify where the human rights of Traveler children are being violated and to seek assurances from local authorities that such violations will be addressed.
The bureau’s landmark report, No End in Site, cataloged repeated failures by Cork City Council to defend the rights of Traveler children at its Spring Lane stop in Blackpool. Neither the site nor the local authority was named in the report, which identified dirty, overcrowded, rat-infested, unsafe and humid living conditions at the site.
It was the first report from the Ombudsman’s Office on the Living Conditions of Traveler Children, and since then, according to Dr. Muldoon, the office was “contacted by a number of people regarding other websites”.
“To date, eight new complaints have been filed regarding the living conditions of Traveler children – some of them concern local authorities, others concern the living conditions of certain families,” he said.
“The complaints are coming from a number of places across the country. The issues raised are similar to those of the 11 families who complained as part of the No End in Site investigation.
“These include inadequate maintenance, including poor plumbing and waste management, the lack of safe play areas for children, concerns about the health and wellbeing of children, and the lack of an effective complaint system to resolve problems.”
Catalyst for change
Dr. Muldoon had hoped that the No End in Site report would act as a catalyst for the government to seek assurances from all local authorities about the conditions at the state rest stops and the welfare of the children living there.
“We hope to meet with An Taoiseach in the coming weeks to discuss our report and hear about the efforts of the government, and the Minister of Housing in particular, to identify other children suffering from similar conditions,” he said.
The “No End in Site” report was presented to the European Committee on Social Rights and Dr. Muldoon said he had raised concerns about the living conditions of some of the traveling children before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, which published 31 equality reviews in July detailing the widespread underfunding of their travel budgets by local authorities, said it had “more than 100 traveler clients on file with our legal team who questioned in certain cases of potential discrimination ”. .
“The vast majority of these cases are related to placement,” it said.