A study on Rathkeale, claiming the Co Limerick town has its own form of apartheid due to the divide between Travellers and the settled community, has been dismissed by community leaders as “total rubbish”.
It is estimated up to 50% of Rathkeale’s year-round population of about 1,800 is made up of settled Travellers.
Over the Christmas-New Year period the population swells to almost 5,000 due to the influx of transient Travellers from all over Europe.
A report by a group, Mediation Northern Ireland, claims the town has its own form of segregation.
But the local community council dismissed the findings as “ludicrous”.
The study, submitted to the Government, claims Travellers and the settled community have little or no contact with each other, leading to an unhealthy division.
And the authors recommend a mediation process similar to one in the North.
Noel White of Rathkeale Community Council has rejected the findings.
“What this report states is far from the truth. The community council always looked after Travellers who could not look after themselves. We try everything we can to mix with them but they have their way of life and we have our own way of life and we get on fine together. There is no trouble in Rathkeale. It is one of the safest towns you could find in Ireland. We have always welcomed input from the travelling community and we have always tried to get input from the travelling community, but they just don’t want to know about it.
“I get so mad from all these reports about Rathkeale from people who come here for an hour or two and they then think they know everything about Rathkeale,” said Mr White.
Cllr Stephen Keary (FG) said the study was a complete waste of money and bore no relevance to Rathkeale’s problems.
“It has no bearing on Rathkeale and is nothing other than total rubbish.
“The problems in Rathkeale are clear to see and involve the ownership of properties which have been allowed deteriorate and are now in a very neglected state.”
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