Travellers targetted by Limerick County Council


Limerick County Council has revived an old bylaw to enable it to seize caravans and cars belonging to Travellers.   The move comes as hundreds of members of the families of Travellers who call Rathkeale home arrive for the Christmas break.  This is an annual event that has been going on for years. Due to the lack of facilities families often end up camping on the roadside. This unavoibably causes tension with other local residents and road users. The county council has never made any serious effort to address the shortage of short term halting facilities in Rathkeale over the Christmas despite having fore knowledge of the problem.

A spokesperson for the Irish Traveller Movement, Damien Pielo,  pointed out today that funding is available, ring fenced by the  Department of Environment specifically to provide accommodation for transient members of the Travelling community.  He pointed out that Travellers were happy to pay for these facilities and waste disposal etc. But that the facilities simply don’t exist either because the council are unwilling , unable or incompetent.  There are a number of traditional gathering points for the Travelling community during the year where large numbers gather, for traditional fairs or pilgrimages.  It is not rocket science to plan for these events and in dialogue with the Travelling community work out a  feasible plan, that would avoid unnecessary  conflict. He pointed out that as a nomadic ethnic group recognised by the European Union, the state was obliged to make such an effort.

In the meantime it appears that Limerick County Council will go down the road of coercion and further exacerbate their relationship with the Travelling community.

A little dialogue and a bit of pre-planning would resolve this issue, the wall of prejudice that has been built up needs to be demolished for this to happen it would appear.  In any other place an influx of visitors or returning migrants is seen as an opportunity and commercial benefit rather than a problem.

WORDS: James McBarron