Galway Travellers occupy city hall carpark to protest accommodation failures


Our solidarity to Travellers in Galway who have occupied City Hall's carpark after the state has yet again failed to provide them with adequate housing.

Earlier today the Gardaí moved them from Galway Airport where they had moved to after they moved from the side of a road in Knocknacarra in the west of the city. Prior to this they were on private land in Carrowbrowne for six months.
The 9 families, including up to 15 children and pregnant women, have pleaded with local council to provide them with a site with sanitation but they have failed to do so. The Council has said that they have offered them emergency homeless accommodation instead.

This comes just months since the Carrickmines Tragedy last October in which a "permanent temporary" haulting site caught fire and 10 lives were claimed, including 5 children. Still, the State will not provide for Travellers; still they view them as second class citizens. How many more Travellers have to die before they are deemed worthy of adequate housing?

It was only a few weeks ago that 23 families were evicted from a haulting site at Woodland Park in Dundalk. The message from the state is "we will not provide for you, if you provide for yourselves we will evict you".

In our report last November we stated: "Back in April 17th the Report on the Recognition of Traveller Ethnicity by the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality was published and it said that ‘It is no longer tenable for this State to deny Traveller ethnicity’. Being part of an ethnic group means that there is common ancestry, history, culture, and language.
Travellers are citizens of this republic, but are different from the majority population. The difference has been recognised for a long time, both in the laws that are created specifically for them (Criminal Trespass act 2002) and in the actions that other citizens take against Travellers (Rockville drive).

Everyone recognises that Travellers are different, and that is due to them being ethnically different. But recognition of that by the State would be the start of officially saying yes, Travellers are different from us, but they CANNOT be discriminated, disrespected or treated differently due to that difference. The history of how Travellers have been treated in Ireland is one where we recognise that they are different to the majority population and has allowed us to house them in disused sand pits and porta cabins.

It allowed us to put them in separate classes in order to not educate them. It allowed and allows us to NOT build appropriate accommodation which recognises their nomadic tradition. It allowed and allows for Travellers being forced into private rented accommodation only to be made homeless when the landlord acts on his prejudice and kicks them out of the house."

Last Saturday one of the speakers at the Anti-Racism Rally claimed that Ireland is not a racist country, this tells us different, this is state racism and it cannot be tolerated.

Full support and solidarity to Travellers.

Words: Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird