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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 January, 2005, 17:11 GMT
Travellers leave hotel car park
Eight families had set up home in the hotel's car park
Eight families had set up home in the hotel's car park
Eight traveller families who had set up camp in the car park of a County Antrim hotel have now left.

The travellers had parked their caravans in the grounds of the Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick on Thursday.

The Hilton Hotel group said if the situation was not resolved by Monday, it would seek a High Court order to force the families to move on.

The travellers left on Saturday. It is understood they had no contact with the hotel before they left.

The families set up home in the Hilton Hotel's car park after being moved on from their last base in north Belfast.

They had no connection to mains electricity, water or the sewage system.

There are no temporary halting sites in Northern Ireland and the permanent ones are all full.

We, in this borough of Antrim, have never really had a lot of trouble with the travelling community
Mervyn Rea
Councillor

The travellers said they had been forced to park illegally as they had nowhere else to go.

Vivien Harvey of the Traveller Movement said: "They have been moved on approximately 12 times since last autumn from various sites across Northern Ireland".

One traveller, who did not wish to be identified, said they needed somewhere to live.

"It's not fair, but we are left with no option," he said.

Antrim councillor Mervyn Rea said it was difficult to strike a balance between the rights of the hotel owners and the needs of the travellers.

'Welfare of guests'

"These people do have their rights. They are recognised as part of the ethnic community," he said.

"We, in this borough of Antrim, have never really had a lot of trouble with the travelling community.

"Therefore, we have never had the need to provide proper facilities for them. If that ever did arise, it is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive".

Catherine Williamson, the spokeswoman for Hilton Hotels in Northern Ireland, said their primary concern was the welfare of their guests.


SEE ALSO:
Travellers ordered to move
18 Feb 04 |  Northern Ireland



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