Northern Ireland news

Mid Ulster council to hold special meeting over traveller evictions

Mid Ulster District Council is to hold a special meeting to discuss plans to evict members of the Travelling community from a car park in Co Derry
Connla Young

Mid Ulster District Council is set to hold a special meeting over the future of two traveller families facing eviction by the local authority.

The families, which include up to seven children, have been living at a council-owned car park on the shores of Lough Neagh at Ballyronan for several months.

They are part of a well-known Travelling community who have lived in the wider Magherafelt area for decades.

A court had granted the council a repossession order instructing the families to leave the carpark by noon last Wednesday.

However, it is understood a last minute intervention by the council’s Sinn Féin chairman Sean McPeake with senior council officials resulted in a reprieve for the families.

Mr McPeake, along with party colleagues Peter Bateson, Sean McGlinchey, who is a councillor at Causeway Coast and Glens, and MLA Ian Milne were all present at the car park to offer their support to the traveller families last Wednesday.

Sinn Féin councillor Sean McGlinchy in conversation with party colleague Sean McPeake and assembly member Ian Milne at a Traveller camp near Ballyronan on the shores of Lough Neagh

Mr McPeake last night said he is “calling a special council meeting to give councillors an opportunity to discuss all options open to the council with a view to arriving at a workable solution to what is a difficult situation”.

Assembly member for the area Ian Milne called on the council “to abandon their plans to evict Traveller families currently settled” at the car park.

A spokeswoman for the council said it is liaising with the “Housing Executive to progress a feasibility study for a suitable halting site for Travellers”.

A spokeswoman for the Housing Executive said a number of sites are under “active consideration” for the provision of Traveller accommodation including one at nearby Traad Point, which is council owned.

She added that the executive has contacted the council's planning department to request "a pre-application discussion for Traad Point" and are awaiting a date for that meeting.

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