On October 10th, 2015 there was an accidental fire at a halting site in Carrickmines, Co. Dublin which had been officially classed as ‘temporary’ although it had been occupied for seven years. Ten members of the Connors/Lynch-Gilbert family, inc. 5 children, died that tragic night. The initial public reaction was widespread, deep sympathy, charitable donations, etc. However, as days went by and the story faded from the headlines, the show of public sympathy declined as the most appalling, venomous comments began to appear on social media websites. These included references to members of the dead family as “robbers” blaming the dead and bereaved for their fate and complaints that the council was wasting public money and affronting honest settled people by “putting the survivors ahead of others on housing lists”. (The Guardian, 25 Oct. ’15).
The council proposed another ‘temporary’ 6-month site as a stopgap solution but some opposing local residents blocked the preparatory work and blockaded the road. Meanwhile, the survivors of the fire were accommodated in a succession of hotels, B&Bs and, for a short period, in a nearby, ironically named Reconciliation Centre originally established for refugees from the war in Northern Ireland. However, an increasing number of local residents argued against Traveller resettlement in 'their area'. The council soon capitulated and housed the survivors in the car park of one of its depots. This is an obviously unsuitable and dangerous site with large electric pylons and no mains sewage! One might automatically jump to the conclusion that finance is the problem – who will pay for this resettlement? But the fact is that there has been 282,000,000 Euros earmarked for Traveller accommodation over the last decade - has this money been spent? if so, how? If not, what has become of it? Is anyone in Dail Eireann willing to answer these questions?