Family calls on Hogan to apologise


THE TRAVELLER family at the centre of the story have called on Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan to apologise for assuring a constituent they would not be housed nearby.

Patrick Carthy and his wife Brigid said yesterday that they had no trouble from their neighbours since moving into a council-owned bungalow about 4km from Kilkenny city about a month ago. They moved from a city halting site to the rural home and were upset to learn of Mr Hogan’s letter to a constituent in relation to where they might be housed.

“It’s not nice,” said Brigid Carthy, while her husband described the Minister’s involvement as “a disgrace”.

Mr Hogan had written to a neighbour thus: “Just a note to let you know that the McCarthy [sic] family will not be allocated the house in your area”.

The Minister had never spoken to them or met them, said Mr Carthy. “He should come and apologise for what he’s done. It’s up to himself . . . I’ll be here for as along as I live.”

He accused Mr Hogan of “trying to clamp down on Travellers” and said he was guilty of “discriminating, before we even moved in”.

The couple have seven children, four of whom attend school in Kilkenny, and said they “never had any trouble” with the neighbours.

Mr Carthy said he lived in the area as a child. The only trouble they have encountered since returning to the Bonnetstown townland last month was on their first day in the bungalow: “I got a threatening letter, saying the family are not welcome here and if you trespass, you will be shot.”

They gave the anonymous letter to gardaí who are “looking into it”. They had no further problems.

It is understood the letter issued under Mr Hogan’s name by his office was sent to a constituent who raised concerns about the Carthys being housed in the bungalow.

A local man, who declined to be named, said he also had concerns and raised them with the council. But now he wanted an end to the controversy. “I made representations myself but . . . I’m willing to give them a chance,” he said, adding there had been “no problem” with the family since they took up residence in the council house. Some neighbours were “very upset” when the possibility of the move first arose, he said, as some members of the Carthy family – who have since died – caused “awful hassle” in the past in the area. That was up to 20 years ago, however, and did not involve Mr Carthy or his wife.