Travellers in carpark ‘sad indictment of society’

Traveller groups have described the decision to accommodate the survivors of the Carrickmines tragedy in a carpark as a “sad indictment of our society” and said once again Travellers’ rights were second to the demands of the majority population.

Ahead of today’s burial of five more victims of the fire of the halting site fire, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council confirmed that, in the face of opposition from local residents, it was abandoning plans to locate a temporary halting site for the survivors at Rockville Drive.

Instead, the new site is in a council-owned carpark beside the council depot at Ballyogan. The council itself has admitted it does not have the basic services which would have been available at Rockville Drive.

“Once again Travellers’ rights to a decent place to live come second place to the demands of the majority population,” said Pavee Point co-director Martin Collins.

“This situation is a sad indictment of our society and raises issues that need to be urgently addressed.

“It is shocking that the bereaved Traveller families will be accommodated at a site that is described as ‘not ideal’ by the council itself and does not have access to proper sewage facilities.” If in these tragic and urgent circumstances the County Council cannot assert its authority in acting in the best interests of its citizens, what chance do Traveller families have in other, less urgent, situations?”

Equality Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the decision to place the survivors in a car-park instead of the previously agreed site after resident protests, was an example of Irish society’s “prejudice”. He said while there has been “an outpouring of sympathy over the lost lives” some people believe the protesting residents, not “10 coffins, 10 people buried this week” are the real victims and have to “examine their conscience”.

Asked about the views of Fine Gael councillor and election candidate Josepha Madigan, who opposed the initial site, he added: “Honestly, the less Josepha says about this the better. She should maintain a silence on the issue.”

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