Car wrecks found in river near encampment


South Dublin County Council has confirmed the presence of a number of abandoned cars beneath the surface of the Dodder river at Rathfarnham.

The council has already twice removed cars from the river, totalling about a dozen, following complaints from local residents.

The residents have also made complaints about a nearby Traveller encampment, from which a number of families departed at the weekend.

Following the Travellers' departure the area was strewn with abandoned and burnt-out cars, television sets, washing machines, fridges and domestic litter yesterday.

The encampment, which has accommodated up to 100 caravans in four distinct groups at various times over the past year, has had a difficult relationship with the local settled community.

A number of letter-writers to The Irish Times suggested the local authority was not subjecting the Traveller community to the same regulations on pollution and littering, to which the settled community had been subjected.

Last July a spokesman for South Dublin County Council said the Travellers were "reinforcing the prejudice of the settled community", and in November the Fine Gael TD for Dublin South, Ms Olivia Mitchell, published a new policy document aimed at making it easier for local authorities to get travellers to move on.

The Fine Gael Bill would give discretionary powers to local authorities "to be used where circumstances such as the scale or location of the encampment warrant its removal," said Ms Mitchell.

She said it was not being disputed that the Travellers should be provided with accommodation, but some Travellers took the view that they were free to wander and camp in "any location, no matter how inappropriate".

Earlier this month the Minister of State for the Environment, Mr Robert Molloy, also said he was thinking of introducing new regulations to allow local authorities to remove unauthorised Traveller encampments.

He told the Dβil the subject of unauthorised encampments was "a burning issue and it will eventually explode".

He confirmed that he and the Minister for Justice, Mr O'Donoghue, were examining the legal issues involved.

Last week Mr Mick Fagan of South Dublin County Council said the council had twice organised a clean-up of the Dodder following the dumping of cars in the water.

He complained that council workers had been intimidated by members of the Traveller community and had to proceed under Garda escort. Gardai were also subjected to abuse.