National pronouncements of support for traveller rights must be matched by local action
Progression of traveller site voted down in Dun Laoghaire
Labour Party Spokesperson on Equality Cllr. Deirdre Kingston has expressed disappointment at the lack of support for the progression of a traveller accommodation site at a meeting of the Dun Laoghaire Area Committee yesterday evening, despite it being included in a programme adopted by councillors in 2014.
Labour Councillors Deirdre Kingston, Denis O’Callaghan and Carrie Smyth had proposed a motion that a site on Pottery Road earmarked for five housing units progress to planning.
Cllr. Kingston said:
“As councillors, we have a responsibility to provide housing to the citizens in this county. All of our citizens. Every councillor on the last Council voted for and adopted a traveller accommodation programme, which set out the pathway to providing housing to travellers living in this county.
“One of the sites proposed in that programme is a site on Pottery Road. This isn’t a new site, or a new proposal. It is in Council ownership and the programme clearly sets out that it was to be considered once the road improvement scheme in the area had been completed.
“I’ve had a number of conversations with residents and many of their concerns could have been addressed by working with the Council and ourselves throughout the planning process. I have also had conversations with residents in the area who expressed shock at the prejudicial language which appeared in an anonymous leaflet that was dropped in the area last weekend. Anonymous because I think the author knew how divisive it actually was.
“This is exactly the kind of behaviour that divides communities and damages the rights of travellers. Over the past year, we have heard public pronouncements from Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and the Green Party on the rights of travellers and the need to tackle discrimination against them. Yet, when it comes to real and tangible action and the opportunity to house them, their councillors run a mile.
“There was an ESRI report out earlier this year which says given the ‘sheer magnitude of the gap between Travellers and non-Travellers in terms of education, employment, housing and health,’ the community needs both mainstream services and highly targeted policies. In order to improve education, employment and health among travellers, we need to first put a roof over their heads.
“We need action on our words, not cowardice.”