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An illegal encampment was set up on Clare County Council offices in Ennistymon for the first time, earlier this week.

Two caravans took up residence in the public car park at Clare County Council’s Ennistymon offices on Tuesday morning of last week. Associated vehicles including a van belonging to the family were also left on the grounds of the local authority.

By Friday, the family had moved on to an alternative location following daily engagement with the local authority.

“The matter of illegal trespass on public lands was dealt with by the Courts Service and An Garda Síochána. As this is a car park and not a caravan park, this was an area with moving vehicles and no sanitary services. It was not suitable for a family as a place of residence. Those involved in the illegal encampment gave an undertaking to the Court to depart and did,” a spokesperson for Clare County Council told The Clare Echo.

The Clare Echo understands that the family who are living in accommodation owned by the local authority have requested a transfer on the grounds of safety. No reports have been lodged with An Garda Síochána on the matter.

Clare County Council has defended the level of support it provides for the Traveller community on areas such as housing need. “The Council is responsible for Housing functions and is satisfied that this service is undertaken to the highest standard. All members of society are entitled to access this service, including the Travelling community. In this case, the occupants of the illegal encampment have a house. Other statutory agencies and NGO organisation have responsibility for providing support for other functions,” the spokesperson added.

Home ownership by Travellers while increasing is at 20%, this compares to 67.6% of the general population who own their own homes. 65.6% of Traveller families rent from a Local Authority with the 2016 Census indicating a decrease in Traveller households renting from a private landlord.

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