Attempts to provoke anti-Traveller sentiment is unjust and flies in the face of the Public Sector Duty

Following their meeting on Wednesday evening at which recent commentary in the media regarding homelessness and the Traveller community was discussed, the Secretariat of Galway City Community Network, the network of over 150 community, voluntary and environmental groups and organisations in Galway City, stated their concern at the unjust depiction of the Traveller community in or at risk of homelessness in Galway.

Commenting, Tommy Flaherty, GCCN Chairperson, stated, “Homelessness is a significant issue in Galway City. The starkness of the homelessness issue we are facing was highlighted by the GCCN seminar on the issue in February. The causes of homelessness are complex but it is widely accepted that members of the Traveller community face unique and added challenges. For many Travellers, accessing private rented accommodation is particularly difficult and the budget for Traveller accommodation that is made available to local authorities by the government remains under or unspent year on year.”

The GCCN Secretariat were highly critical of any attempt to highlight in a negative way the experience of any one sector of society. Commenting, Professor Terrence McDonough, Chairperson of the Local Community Development Committee and member of the GCCN Secretariat, stated, “Attempts to provoke anti-Traveller sentiment is unjust and flies in the face of the Public Sector Duty, the law that now requires all public bodies to proactively promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of their employees, customers, service users and everyone affected by their policies and plans. These comments are contradictory to this obligation and should not go unchallenged”.

Calling on all public representatives to condemn any similar statements in the run-up to the local election in 2019, Marian Maloney, a disability rights activist and GCCN Secretariat member, stated, “we need to see solidarity between all groups that experience discrimination and I would call on all local and national politicians to publicly condemn any statements that may provoke negative feelings”.