In 2015, Sallyann Berry, who was pregnant, and her young family were without adequate sanitation facilities for 6 months due to delay by Dublin City Council (DCC). Mrs Berry is a member of the Traveller community resident at Labre Park, Ballyfermot.
A fire in late January 2015 destroyed the sanitation unit adjacent to their mobile accommodation. On reporting the damage to DCC, Mrs Berry was refused maintenance services due to an alleged previous ‘incident’ of anti-social behaviour by other persons on site.
Ballyfermot Traveller Action Project (BTAP) brought to case to PILA, which facilitated pro bono representation by Kevin Brophy Solicitors.
Mrs Berry took her complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission, claiming that DCC failed, refused or neglected to provide a maintenance service, thereby directly discriminating against her under the Traveller status ground of Section 3 and contrary to Section 5 of the Equal Status Acts in relation to access to a service.
The WRC found that the delay in providing proper access to a sanitation unit was discriminatory against the complainant and would not have occurred in similar circumstances for a person from the settled community.
“This is a very important decision for the Traveller community. All too often an entire community, whether it be Labre Park or another Traveller-specific accommodation area, is discriminated against by local authorities and other agencies as blanket policies are implemented without regard to individual need,” according to Lorraine McMahon, BTAP Coordinator.