Saturday 19 October 2019

Under fire over car park views

The scene at Connaughton Road Car Park this week
The scene at Connaughton Road Car Park this week

Paul Deering

A sitting councillor and a local election candidate have been accused of caring more about the city's image from a tourism point of view rather than the living conditions of Travellers who have been living in Connaughton Road car park for nearly 40 years.

Sligo Traveller Support Group has expressed concern and frustration about remarks by Councillor Tom MacSharry and Sligo Business Improvement District representative Finbar Filan.

Cllr MacSharry brought the matter up at a meeting of the County Council where he lodged a motion in relation to scrap metal in the car park and described the situation as "intolerable", sending out the "wrong message" and impacting on the city's ability to maximise tourism.

Jamie Murphy of STSG claimed Cllr MacSharry was in violation of the privacy of families living there by encouraging members of the public to go and "have a look for themselves".

"At no stage has Councillor MacSharry ever contacted Sligo Traveller Support Group to raise his concerns. He has also never engaged with Sligo Traveller Support Group with regards to what is the far more important issue of the overcrowding, lack of clean water, toilet or washing facilities that the families including young children have had to endure for decades at Connaughton Road," he said.

Mr Murphy also claimed Cllr MacSharry had made a targeted public attack on a Traveller family in the run up to an election and was in violation of the anti racism election protocol organised by the European Network Against Racism Ireland.

"A part of the protocol is that candidates must agree to condemn any campaign materials or statements that may incite hatred or express prejudice on the grounds of race, colour nationality or origin, ethnic background, religious belief or membership of the Traveller Community."

Mr Murphy said Mr Filan had also chosen to ignore the horrific living conditions the families have had live in. "Mr Filan has not once contacted us in the past to raise the concerns of the Sligo BID group but has been in the media numerous times doing so.

"He, like Cllr MacSharry focused on the public image of Sligo, rather than looking to solve the situation for the well-being of families.

"In relation to his asking all involved to come together STSG has consistently done this and as recently as last week we had initiated a meeting with Sligo County Council which they cancelled at the last minute despite a national Traveller representative having come form Dublin to attend.

"We have also sought to move this situation with the well being of families as a priority and not the "public image" of the town.

"We will continue to be available to work with anyone who shares this perspective with us," said Mr Murphy.

Sligo Champion