Carrickmines relatives to join Traveller trip to meet Pope

Margaret O’Leary, married into Connors family and in action group, joins delgation

The  coffins of Thomas and Sylvia Connors and their children Christopher, Jim and  Mary pass the halting site at Glenamuck Road, Carrickmines. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

The coffins of Thomas and Sylvia Connors and their children Christopher, Jim and Mary pass the halting site at Glenamuck Road, Carrickmines. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

 

Members of the extended families of the Carrickmines fire victims are going to Rome today to meet the Pope.

Margaret O’Leary and her young son William will join a delegation of Travellers who are due to travel to Rome today. Ms O’Leary, who is married into the Connors family and is also a member of the Southside Travellers Action Group (Stag), was invited to join the delegation in recent days.

Stag director Geraldine Dunne said the 15 survivors of the fire in which 10 people died were “relieved” to have a place to live when they return to Dublin at the weekend after the burial of five victims in Wexford today.

Opposition from residents forced Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to abandon its initial plan to provide temporary accommodation for the survivors on a site it owns at Rockville Drive, close to the scene of the fire.

The council decided on Wednesday to provide emergency housing in a car park on Ballyogan Road, although it acknowledged the site was “not ideal” because it does not have full access to basic services.

Ms Dunne said it was “unfortunate” residents at Rockville Drive objected to the original site.

Sympathy

“All I have to say to the residents in Rockville is, it took a long time. We would have preferred if it had been a positive outcome but it didn’t happen like that, so it’s unfortunate.”

Ms Dunne said she did not fully agree with a priest who said there was a lack of empathy from the settled community towards Travellers.

Fr Dermot Lane was speaking at the removal of the remains of five of the victims in Dublin on Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t agree with it in whole. I think a lot of sympathy has come from Irish people in general and citizens,” she said.

“For me, being a human being and citizen in this country and in general, I have no given right to ever refuse a family or anyone any home and I don’t think anyone should have that right either.

“I hope that people will agree with me on that statement. I hope in the future we never, ever stop any of our homeless getting somewhere to live,” she said.

It will take a while for the relatives affected by the Carrickmines fire to get back on their feet, she said.

“I will hope these families can rebuild their lives but it will be a long time before that will happen again.

Rebuild lives

“I can’t say that the family will ever get back to any normality. Looking at them now, in their grieving stage and their loss, I have no words for it.”