Tuesday 27 September 2016

Dublin Fire Tragedy: Travellers are 'often victims of housing crisis', claim representatives

Michael McHugh

Published 11/10/2015 | 17:24

Toys and flowers are left at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. Local parishioners are to fund raise for the victims of a blaze which claimed 10 lives in Ireland, a Catholic priest has said. See PA story IRISH Halting. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Toys and flowers are left at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. Local parishioners are to fund raise for the victims of a blaze which claimed 10 lives in Ireland, a Catholic priest has said. See PA story IRISH Halting. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Some travellers have been forced to live in overcrowded and dangerous situations due to a housing crisis, representatives have claimed.

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They are a minority who have been in Ireland for centuries, according to the Irish Traveller Movement (ITM), and experience high levels of prejudice and exclusion.

Flowers are left at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. Local parishioners are to fund raise for the victims of a blaze which claimed 10 lives in Ireland, a Catholic priest has said. See PA story IRISH Halting. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Flowers are left at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. Local parishioners are to fund raise for the victims of a blaze which claimed 10 lives in Ireland, a Catholic priest has said. See PA story IRISH Halting. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. Local parishioners are to fund raise for the victims of a blaze which claimed 10 lives in Ireland, a Catholic priest has said. See PA story IRISH Halting. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

There are an estimated 25,000 travellers in the country, while others have gone to the UK.

In the past, advocates claim, they had to live in insanitary conditions leading to ongoing health problems but the Government has made efforts to improve matters and funded organisations to protect their rights to education and other aspects of life.

The ITM said: "Many have to endure living in intolerable conditions, with approximately one third having to live without access to the basic facilities of sanitation, water and electricity. This leads to ongoing health problems among the traveller community."

The cause of Saturday's blaze is under investigation and there is no suggestion at this stage that intolerable conditions may have played a part.

A forensics officer walks past toys and flowers left at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A forensics officer walks past toys and flowers left at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
People gather as toys and flowers are left at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
People gather as toys and flowers are left at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The nomadic ways of the travellers is an important source of identity but the ITM has said more should be done to support them.

Enivornment Minister Alan Kellly said: "The travelling communities own representative groups have been liaising with the local services to assist in any way they can. The Civil Defence service is assisting the co-ordinated effort to deal with the aftermath of this terrible situation.

"At national level, my own department's co-ordination arrangements have been activated to liaise with and support the local response.

"As minister with responsibility for community, my department will be supporting the traveller community, in whatever way it can, over the coming very difficult days."

Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre has commended firefighters for putting their lives on the line to rescue people.

But co-director Ronnie Fay claimed: "Pavee Point is concerned that many traveller families throughout Ireland are being forced to live in overcrowded and dangerous situations due to the impact of the housing crisis. Travellers are often the hidden victims of the housing crisis.

"The difficulties in accessing the private rented sector are exacerbated for many travellers who continue to experience widespread discrimination and find it nigh on impossible to rent from private landlords.

"This is in addition to the cuts made by the Government to traveller accommodation under the guise of austerity measures with the budget reduced from 40 million euro in 2008 to 4 million euro in 2013.

"We call on the Government to reinvest in travellers and ameliorate the savage cuts that were imposed during austerity."

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