Josepha Madigan: 'Why I'm standing over my Traveller site views'
She is standing in the country's electorally toughest constituency against a raft of political heavyweights but Fine Gael's new 'iron lady' Josepha Madigan is steely and unrepentant about her controversial leaflet, which claimed that building Traveller accommodation in her affluent south Dublin enclave would be "a waste of valuable resources".
Speaking to the Sunday Independent this weekend, Ms. Madigan stated: "You can be accused of NIMBYism [a 'not in my back yard' mentality], you could be accused of anything. I still stand by my comments because there is nothing anti-anybody in that newsletter. This could have been any sector of society."
Her 2014 leaflet received public attention in the wake of the recent fire tragedy in Carrickmines, in which ten Travellers died.
Cllr Madigan, a family law solicitor, said it is important to look at the issue with a "forensic eye" and that the issue simply "comes down to money."
"This is land that now is worth about €7m or €8m and what the council was proposing to do was to house four families in that site. My only point was from an economic perspective, not anti-Traveller.
"I am not anti-anybody. Why not sell that land worth €7m or €8m and house 60 families?"
Asked if she would be happy if 60 Traveller families were moved on to the site, to make the best use of the land, Ms. Madigan replied: "No, no. My point is . . . I am talking about selling the site.
"I live in Mount Merrion right? And putting a halting site here, quiet frankly, would be ridiculous from a financial perspective.
"If you are talking about me living next door to a halting site - where I live, the money that it would cost to buy the site in Mount Merrion, you could buy a site somewhere else for a third of the price and house more families. It doesn't make any logical sense from a taxpayer's perspective."
Asked if she would personally have a problem living beside a halting site, Ms. Madigan replied: "There is no reason to have a halting site here. I mean there's no room for it anyway apart from anything else you know?
"And I know from talking to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (County Council), there was no particular demand for a halting site in this area from the Travellers themselves. It's not about me. There are other residents here and whether or not they would want to live beside a halting site."
She added that her personal feelings towards a halting site in the area would depend on a number of factors including "the level of services provided for the particular halting site; how many families are going to be living there; whether it is secure; whether they have all the facilities; and whether there are young children [living there]," she said.
When asked if she could understand why some people wouldn't want to live beside a halting site, Ms. Madigan said: "Everybody has different views. Some people won't want to live beside people in halting sites.
"Some people are of the opinion that there might be more crime, that there might be anti-social behaviour," she said.