Wednesday 19 December 2018

Family 'storms' chamber over halting site vote

Councillors vote to do up Glenview halting site for more families

Sorcha Crowley

"Do you want a bloodbath on your hands?" asked young Marie McGinley inches from the face of Sligo County Council Chief Executive Ciarán Hayes as he sat in the Council chamber on Monday.

Accompanied by her brother Barney Jnr and mother Marie Snr, the three McGinleys stormed the chamber after a majority of councillors voted to refurbish Glenview Halting Site in Ash Lane in direct opposition to the wishes of both the McGinleys of Connaughton Road and the Ward family who have been living in Glenview for the past 15 years.

It forced Leas-Cathaoirleach Keith Henry to adjourn the meeting for ten minutes to restore calm.

"Where's Ciarán Hayes?" shouted Marie Snr as she interrupted Hayes' presentation on Sligo Economic Development.

"Enough is enough," she cried marching over to the top table where she stood in front of Hayes and his team and told them that they would not be pushed into a halting site in Glenview.

"We don't get on with that family," she cried.

Her son, Barney Jnr, circled the chamber with his phone taking pictures of all the councillors who voted 'yes'.

"We have rights. It was passed in March 2017 (Recognition of Traveller Ethnicity). We are human beings. Ye are the ones who voted 'yes'," he shouted to a stunned chamber.

"Could we secure the building," said Cllr Hubert Keaney before the family left the chamber.

The extraordinary scenes were prompted by the Council members majority decision to vote in favour of refurbishing Glenview Halting Site.

Both families claim a decision has been made by Council officials to move the McGinleys from Connaughton Road into Glenview once it's been refurbished, with a ten foot wall between them.

However the councillors stressed before the vote, that several other Traveller families had sought halting bays as long term housing solutions and said they had no say in what family is housed there.

There are tensions between the McGinley and Ward families and neither wish to live alongside each other.

However both families were united on the steps of the Council headquarters at Riverside Monday morning to protest the proposal and urge councillors to vote against it.

Their pleas fell on deaf ears however, with only Councillors Declan Bree and Gino O'Boyle voting against the proposal.

The motion went to a vote and was carried by 13 votes in favour, two against. Three councillors were absent.

Sligo Champion