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Minister for Justice veiled threat to withdraw Pavee Point funding unacceptable - Ó Snodaigh

27 July, 2007

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan to clarify his comments regarding the possible withdrawal of exchequer funding to Pavee Point.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“Yesterday Brian Lenihan publicly made a veiled threat to withdraw Pavee Point’s funding in punishment for their humanitarian efforts with the extended Roma family living in sub standard conditions on the M50. This is an unacceptable abuse of both his office and role as a public representative.

“The Minister’s proposition that Pavee Point is promoting a back door immigration policy within or outside the state is outrageous. The fact remains that local government and the Departments of Health and Social and Family Affairs allowed a possible humanitarian crisis to develop on the M50. Pavee Point along with a number of other charities stepped in so as to contain the possible illnesses or even worse deaths that in real terms could have occurred.

“In addition to the practical support that Pavee Point provide to the travelling community they also seeks to highlight the severe inequity experienced by the travelling communities both here at home and abroad. That the Roma peoples are discriminated against is no secret, it has been highlighted in a multitude of reports including from the EU, UN and UNICEF. They should be commended for this work, not bullied into silence.

“It is deeply disappointing that Brian Lenihan appears to be carrying the torch of Michael McDowell in his approach to his portfolio as Minister for Justice. Minister Lenihan would be wise to remember that there was a reason why Michael McDowell lost his Dáil seat on three separate occasions. Citizens did not agree with his politics and abhorred his style of governance.

“I am calling on the Minister to immediately clarify his position on the exchequer funding of organisations such as Pavee Point who provide humanitarian support and assistance to those who most need it. I am also calling on him to apologise to Pavee Point, and other agencies who provided humanitarian aid to the M50 Roma families, for suggesting any impropriety in their work.” CRÍOCH  

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