FG election candidate clashes with party over 'waste of money' halting site
A Fine Gael election candidate has clashed with the party hierarchy after insisting that building a halting site in an affluent neighbourhood would represent a "dreadful waste of taxpayers' money".
Dún Laoghaire Rathdown councillor Josepha Madigan said the site was worth €5m and the land should be sold.
Ms Madigan is a candidate in the Dublin Rathdown constituency, formerly known as Dublin South, where she is the new running mate of former justice minister Alan Shatter.
Ms Madigan previously caused outrage when she made statements on the valuable piece of property in prosperous Mount Anville, south Dublin, in the run-up to last year's local elections.
But Traveller accommodation in the council area is back in the spotlight following the tragic deaths of 10 people in the Carrickmines fire a week ago.
Fine Gael has made it clear that Ms Madigan's comments do not reflect party policy.
Ms Madigan insisted that while some people had taken her words out of context, she stood by them on "economic grounds".
"It is quite clear that my comments are in relation to an economic perspective and the Mount Anville site specifically and that's it," said Ms Madigan.
"That is absolutely not anti-Traveller and that is very evident from my newsletter. The site in Mount Anville is worth €5m and what was proposed was that four families were to be housed there. The argument that I was making is that if the council sold that land we could actually house 20 families or more and that is where I was coming from.
"It is a waste of money from an economic perspective, not a Traveller perspective."
When asked if she would support the use of another site in the area, if one were to become available, Ms Madigan said "it would depend" on a number of factors.
Last night a Fine Gael official said: "The comments by councillor Josepha Madigan in May 2014 do not reflect Fine Gael's party policy in relation to Traveller accommodation.
"As [Housing] Minister Paudie Coffey has said, it is the responsibility of local authorities to provide suitable Traveller accommodation, using the funding provided by Government."
Each council in the country is obliged to put in place a Traveller accommodation programme (TAP) every five years. But Dún Laoghaire Rathdown has yet to draw any funding for new accommodation under the TAP it agreed in January last year.
It comes as a stand-off continues between council officials and residents of Rockville Drive.