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Traveller rights must be prioritised- Mayor Holland

12 October, 2015 - by Sarah Holland

Mayor of South Dublin County Council Sarah Holland has said that the tragic fire at Carrickmines should come as a wakeup call to local authorities to start prioritising travellers’ rights. 

She said 

“We here in South Dublin County Council were given a zero allocation from the Traveller Accommodation fund last year. 

Improvements to existing halting sites, which were much needed, were paid for out of our Housing Capital Allocation. 

I visited one family recently who were all living in the day unit, as financial hardship meant they had no caravan. 

Mam and four kids were all sleeping on mattresses on the living area floor. 

Anyone who has seen a day unit will know that they are a basic two roomed unit with kitchenette and bathroom. 

Some families don’t even have this facility, with over 400 living on roadsides and make do sites. 

It begs the question about how serious the Government is about Travellers rights. 

The April 2014 report on Traveller Ethnicity by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality made several recommendations, which have still not been acted upon by The Government some 18 months later. 

The recommendations contained in that report were as follows: 

Step 1: That either the Taoiseach or the Minister for Justice and Equality make a statement to Dáil Éireann confirming that this State recognises the ethnicity of the travelling community. 

Step 2: That the Government then writes to the relevant international bodies, confirming that this State recognises the ethnicity of the travelling community.  

Step 3: That the Government build on these initiatives and commence a time limited dialogue with the Traveller representative groups about the new legislation or amendments to existing legislation now required.

I’m sorry to say that councillors from some parties spend their time campaigning against halting sites – where do they expect Traveller families to live?   

The attitude of “Not in my backyard” is nothing but snobbery, and fuels the discrimination that Traveller families face.

I was saddened to note that the comments section on The Journal had to be disabled under the report of the Carrickmines tragedy, because of racist, victim-blaming comments.

Travellers' lives are devalued by racists in our society and the failure to act on the April 2014 committee recommendations gives succour to them.

I now call on the Government to stop their nimbyism and act on the recommendations of this report”

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