The Green Party today called for the elimination of so called ‘temporary’ halting sites as a means of accommodating Traveller families in the wake of the tragedy at Carrickmines. The Party said that political blocking and a culture of endemic discrimination towards the Traveller community is preventing the advancement of housing that meets the needs of Travellers. The Greens claim that funding for Traveller accommodation had been cut by 93% since 2008 because the needs of Travellers was low down the political agenda.
“We cannot say hand on heart that a tragedy such as that which happened last weekend will not happen again. There are families living in these tinderboxes all over the State” said Green Party Environment Spokesperson Cllr Malcolm Noonan.
“Elected representatives who have constantly opposed Traveller accommodation citing cost, anti-social behaviour and other issues should carefully reflect on the lessons from this tragedy and consider whether it might have been averted with political leadership.
“At a political level we need to turn off the crocodile tears we are shedding for these lost souls and begin to show leadership to end the appalling living conditions that Traveller children wake up to every morning in 21st Century Ireland.
“The Green Party is calling on Government to reinstate funding for Traveller accommodation in the upcoming supplementary budget and to mandate Local Authorities to end all temporary accommodation by setting annual targets to meet the needs of families. Furthermore we are requesting that measures are put in place to ensure that fire safety training is conducted by Local Authorities for all Traveller halting sites and community housing schemes and that the use of inappropriate prefab units is banned” said Cllr Noonan.
“Those bereaved by the tragic loss of life at the weekend will have little comfort in knowing that their ongoing struggle for a right to basic living conditions will go on long after this story disappears from the front pages. As politicians we need to have the courage to stand in solidarity with them and ensure that this is the last such tragedy to happen and as a wider community we need to ask why we allow this terrible social apartheid to persist”