My name is Kathleen Delaney and I am an Irish Traveller living on Spring Lane Halting site in Cork city. I am involved in a campaign for better living conditions for the families who live here.
The living conditions on Spring Lane site are appalling. It’s completely overcrowded – there are 40 families crammed into a run-down site built for 10 families.
All the families here are related. I grew up on the site and, because I had nowhere else to go once I grew up, I moved across from my parent’s bay and now I have a family of my own. There’s three generations living here and most people don’t even have their own toilets or water.
My caravan is parked up on rough gravel and we have no toilets or showers. To wash the kids, I must heat water, and wash them in a bath in front of the fire. There are nearly 100 children on the site and they have no place safe to play. Often, my own children were injured playing from the hazards on this site. The only place they have to play is on a potholed road and in puddles of water which are everywhere here.
It’s hard living in conditions like this. The children often get sick with chest complaints and kidney infections.
This is an official halting site built by the council and everyone here pays rent.
For years, I went to meetings with the council but nothing changed.
For the last two years, residents and local Traveller organisations have started a campaign for our accommodation rights.
The right to adequate housing is provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the European Social Charter.
We started telling our story in the media, to newspapers and television. We did training to give ourselves more confidence to do this. We wanted to keep attention on the site and tell the real story of our lives living in these condition.
We invited politicians, TDs, councillors and other people with power to come here and meet us and see with their own eyes what the site was like. Most people were shocked. The site is rat-infested and, last year, we had a burst sewerage pipe that flooded an area beside the site for months.
We made a film about the site: “Spring Lane 26 years of Hardship”, and invited politicians and other people with power to the launch.
We also made a community manifesto, giving information on the site, as well as asking for a new site or group housing to be built – which would be an answer to our problems here – to create proper homes for the families of Spring Lane and for all.
Fighting for your rights can be a long road. We are still waiting for an answer from the council.
It can wear you down, but I’ll never stop. We need to keep going until we get proper homes for our children and a proper future.
You can follow the Spring Lane campaign on Facebook here.