Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has called on Minister Phil Hogan to apologise to the Traveller Community and to the family named in his letter to residents of Bonnettstown, Co Kilkenny. He made the call following Minister Hogan's admission that he lobbied Kilkenny County Council against housing a traveller family but was not able to give any justification for this action.
"It is very clear Minister Hogan was giving voice to prejudice in his actions. Through lobbying the council against a family with whom he has no argument he has given legitimacy to racist ideas.
“Travellers are one of the most marginalised groups in Ireland. They suffer with higher levels of unemployment, ill-health and lower educational attainment as well as discrimination and vilification in the media, politics and wider society. Anti-Traveller sentiment is regrettably common and the Minister, by his action, has given it legitimacy.
“He should apologise for his actions and his refusal to admit wrongdoing in numerous media engagements today. I cannot see how he can be trusted to oversee a department which deals with housing.
On 30 March the home of a Traveller family was burnt out in Kilkenny before they could move in. It was undoubtedly a racist attack. Phil Hogan should be working to counteract the hatred which caused that attack."