Saturday 25 March 2017

Travellers say Kenny's comments at funeral 'disgraceful'

Áilíse Berry (6) from Ballyfermot at the gathering of Travellers at Leinster House to demand action on Traveller accommodation in the wake of the Carrickmines fire Photo: Tom Burke
Áilíse Berry (6) from Ballyfermot at the gathering of Travellers at Leinster House to demand action on Traveller accommodation in the wake of the Carrickmines fire Photo: Tom Burke
Travellers and supporters protest outside the Dáil

Jane O'Faherty

Members of the Travelling community have claimed that comments made by Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a funeral of five victims of the Carrickmines fire amounted to "state discrimination".

Lorraine McMahon, of Ballyfermot Travellers Action Group, also said the remarks by the Taoiseach and other elected representatives on why businesses had closed on the day were "disgraceful".

Mr Kenny had appeared to say that he understood why businesses, including pubs, in Wexford closed on the day that Tom and Sylvia Connors and their three children were laid to rest last week.

Read more: Carrickmines relatives meet Pope during Vatican ceremony  

"When we have Enda Kenny, standing in Wexford at a funeral on Friday, when five members of the Connors family were being buried, and talking about how he understood why businesses were closed down, that is absolutely disgraceful," Ms McMahon said.

"The vast majority of Travellers are out there like any of us, living their day-to-day lives, and they are forced to live in horrific conditions.

"When Enda Kenny was at Garda Golden's funeral, he didn't talk about the bad eggs in the force. There would have been public uproar."

Read more: Carrickmines tragedy family relative William (9) blessed by Pope at Vatican

Speaking to journalists about the closures on the day of the funeral, Mr Kenny said there had been "incidents on some occasions where things have got out of hand".

He added: "This is a great tragedy and from speaking to the Travelling people there, they are going their way once the burials have taken place in the graveyard."

Meanwhile, Public Expenditure Minister and Wexford TD Brendan Howlin said he "understood" why some pubs closed, adding: "I think maybe the unavailability of alcohol is not a bad thing."

Read more: Victims of Carrickmines tragedy make their final journey to lie in peace

Mourners in Wexford had refreshments in a local community centre after the burial, after no hotel or commercial establishment was willing or able to accommodate them.

Neither the Department of the Taoiseach nor the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform wished to respond when contacted by the Irish Independent yesterday.

Read more: Carrickmines fire: Parents Sylvia and Thomas were devoted to their children and 'a match made in heaven', funeral hears  

Ms McMahon was attending a protest outside Leinster House demanding action on Traveller accommodation and perceived discrimination. Organised by all-Ireland Traveller forum Mincéirs Whiden, it was attended by Travellers from around the country, including Mayo, Tipperary, Galway and Offaly.

Irish Independent

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