Flowers outside the unofficial halting site in Glenamuck Road in Carrickmines, Dublin, where a fire killed 10 members of the same Traveller family, one of whom was pregnant
Thomas Erbsloh sent the following letter to The Irish Times – for the letters page – before the weekend of October 8/9 – ahead of the anniversary of the Carrickmines fire on October 10.
It has yet to be published.
This time last year, the issue of Traveller accommodation briefly hit the media headlines, following the tragic fire in Carrickmines, killing ten members of the Traveller community. While there was an outpouring of sympathy across the country in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, what has happened since, in terms of providing safe Traveller accommodation to ensure such a tragedy will never happen again?
Since the late 1990s, each local authority has its own, statutory Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee (LTACC), which includes Traveller representatives. Following Carrickmines, the Department directed an almost immediate fire and safety review of Traveller accommodation.
Local authorities provided reports to the Department over the next couple of months, and subsequently most local authorities set up steering committees to address issues identified, with the LTACC becoming the steering group for this in many cases.
So far, so good?
In many cases, the fire and safety reports are being withheld from the Traveller representatives on the LTACC – so one is to be a member of this important steering group, without having access to the one crucial report that informs the work of this steering committee. Hmmm?
Instead one has to hope and rely that [Irish Times journalist] Kitty Holland will access the relevant information under FOI, and one might find out this important information by reading The Irish Times. While this is hardly the core issue in the delivery of safe accommodation, it exposes, once more, the tokenism in the framework structures.
The Traveller Accommodation Strategy, in place since the late-1990s, has failed in delivering Traveller accommodation. It has failed because it is strong on intent, but poor on implementation, and completely lacking any system of sanctions.
If you are in the way of the expansion of Apple Computers in Cork, you will be re-accommodated in brand new accommodation (funded out of a miraculous fund, outside of the national budget for Traveller accommodation, at a cost of € 5million, according to Cork City Council), but if you survived the tragedy in Carrickmines … well, that`s an entirely different story.
Ireland, 2016 – one year from the Carrickmines tragedy; their friends and relatives will mourn the ten dead. Not only were their deaths avoidable, their deaths were also in vain : nothing has changed and the merry system of windowdressing continues. Ireland, 2016 – one hundred years from cherishing the children of the nation equally.
Previously: ‘They Couldn’t Get To The Water’