GREEN PARTY Environment Spokesperson Malcolm Noonan has condemned a letter written by Minister for Environment Phil Hogan to constituents assuring them that a Traveller family would not be housed close to where they live in Bonnettstown.
Mr Hogan responded to some concerned constituents living in the area and informed them that a Traveller family would not be allocated a house in their area. Council officials subsequently decided to house the family in the house that was allocated for them.
Cllr Malcolm Noonan has claimed that there is a level of discrimination at a political level, that he had experienced it first hand as a member of Kilkenny County Council and that he was not at all surprised by Minister Hogan’s intervention.
‘This is not the first time that the allocation of a house to a Traveller family has been interfered with by local representations of a councillor on behalf of constituents. The difference here however is that the allocation to the Carthy family in Bonnetstown has been interfered with at the highest possible level; by a Government Minister’ said Cllr Noonan.
‘Minister Hogan should know better and not play into the discrimination and bigotary that exists towards the Traveller community among his colleagues. This is a disgraceful and completely inappropriate action by Minister Hogan. It is not my place to call on anyone to resign their position but he must seriously consider engaging with Traveller Development Organisations such as Pavee Point who might offer anti discrimination for him and some of his Fine Gael colleagues on Kilkenny County Council. Only then will he understand the racism, discrimination and hardship that travellers encounter on a daily basis in every facet of their lives’ he said.
‘The family in question is living in one of the most overcrowded halting sites in the country in developing world conditions. A much promised housing programme and community centre has yet to receive the go ahead from Minister Hogan’s department. The Minister could undo some of the damage he has caused by his inappropriate representation by securing the capital funding to allow the project to commence. On a wider scale, the Green Party has consistently called for a comprehensive review of the Traveller Accommodation Programme as it is clearly failing to meet the needs of Travellers and their culture’ concluded Cllr Noonan.