Protest over Traveller site like ‘Alabama in the 1950s’

Equality Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has criticised people protesting against emergency accommodation for Traveller families caught up in the Carrickmines blaze, saying their views “remind me of Alabama in the 1950s”.

The Labour TD for Dublin North-Central made the remark amid an ongoing standoff between residents of Rockville Drive in Dublin and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

Since Wednesday, a group of people living in the area has blocked workers from accessing a site where the local authority planned to build emergency accommodation for families affected by last Saturday’s tragedy at a State-backed halting site, which saw 10 people — including six-month-old Mary Connors — burn to death.

While the council has said the accommodation will only be used for six months, residents have blocked its development, saying they have not been consulted and citing anti-social behaviour concerns.

On RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Mr Ó Ríordáin said that while he understood residents’ concerns, their approach is like the racist era of “Alabama in the 1950s”.

“Irish society — we voted through an equality referendum in May, and then in October we have scenes which honestly remind me of Alabama in the 1950s. I understand residents have concerns, but the manner they went about it is quite appalling,” he said.

There is a traumatised community who’ve just seen 10 members of their community, and two entire families, burned to death.”

Mr Ó Ríordáin said legislation confirming Travellers as a distinct ethnic group is to be put forward “in a very short space of time”.

On the same programme, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said she is “really disturbed” by the standoff, which she said is “much bigger than this specific case”.

Housing Minister Paudie Coffey said he expects local authorities to step up to their responsibilities when it comes to providing Traveller accommodation.

However, while saying he will “be monitoring closely the progress” and “we expect them to draw down funding” available, Government will not impose “diktats” to make councils comply. The first funerals of the 10 people who died in the Carrickmines blaze will take place tomorrow, after their bodies were identified over the weekend.

More on this topic

There have been other fires since Carrickmines, says Irish Traveller MovementThere have been other fires since Carrickmines, says Irish Traveller Movement

Emotional scenes as inquest into death of 10 people in Carrickmines fire returns verdict of misadventureEmotional scenes as inquest into death of 10 people in Carrickmines fire returns verdict of misadventure

10 victims of Carrickmines fire died from carbon monoxide poisoning10 victims of Carrickmines fire died from carbon monoxide poisoning

Teen who rescued his nephew in Carrickmines fire 'extremely lucky' to survive, inquest hearsTeen who rescued his nephew in Carrickmines fire 'extremely lucky' to survive, inquest hears


Lifestyle

Hannah Stephenson seeks expert advice on how we can dig into the benefits nature offers our wellbeing.How to grow your own mindfulness comfort zone

Kerry was my first taste of freedom. My parents left me with my aunty from the age of nine. My son is nine now, but the Irish college is gone, the shop is closed, and the once bustling church looks sad, like a forgotten song.Secret Diary of an Irish Teacher: a nostalgic night in Kerry

Posh Cork's agony aunt: sorting out Cork people for ages.Ask Audrey: Why aren't William and Kate coming to Cork?

Festival season approaches, legends come to the Opera House, and a young Irish phenomenon continues to impact on UK telly, writes Arts Editor Des O'Driscoll.Scene and Heard: 'the major voice of a generation'

More From The Irish Examiner