Republican News · Thursday 09 March 2000

[An Phoblacht]

End prejudice against Travellers - O'Toole

``For once Sinn Féin, which has campaigned down the years to close Sellafield, was able to make the running against the cosy consensus of politicians on Dublin City Council''. Christy Burke took the other parties by surprise with an emergency motion calling on the government for the closure of Sellafield in the light of the most recent scandalous revelations concerning safety at the plant.

The resolution which was proposed by the Sinn Fein/Independent group of councillors, won unanimous support from the parties, who didn't want to diverge from Bertie Ahern's long overdue call to the British last weekend to close BNFL.

But the highlight of this month's Corporation meeting was the intervention by Sinn Féin's Larry O'Toole, who proposed the report from the Dublin City Council Accommodation Consultative Committee, of which he is a member.

In a powerful, moving speech, O'Toole spoke for ``the Travellers in this town who are the most marginalised by every measure, be it unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, health or access to education. In Ireland, 1,200 Travellers live by the side of the road, and a quarter live on unserviced sites, with no facilities whatever.

``I trust'' he said, ``that this local authority will have the same resolve and commitment as our neighbours in Meath County Council, who had the courage to face down prejudice and complete their allocation programme. This report is only the beginning of providing adequate accommodation for the Travelling community in this city.

``The acid test is when sites are identified and building proposals come forward. It is then that councillors will have to rise above cheap prejudice, and popular catch cries of the unjust, the intolerant and the racist, which have left Travellers to live on the rubbish tips of our society.''

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