Travellers’ group asks for privacy for Carrickmines survivors

Southside Travellers Action Group says families should be let grieve in peace

Mick Connors was seven on Saturday. He and his baby brother Tom (4) are the only members of their family to survive the Carrickmines fire tragedy on October 10th last.

On Friday, his mother and father Sylvia and Thomas Connors, both 27, his brothers Jimmy (5) and Christy (2), as well as baby sister Mary (5 months), were buried at Crosstown cemetery near Wexford town.

"His name is Michael, he is referred to as Mick,"said Geraldine Dunne, director of the Southside Travellers Action Group on Sunday, recalling how they got the boy a birthday cake for the occasion.

“It was really emotional for everyone around him, the families and friends, the community members. Again, he’s an orphan and it was really sad to see him celebrate his birthday without his other family members there,” she said.

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Ms Dunne appealed for the family to be allowed privacy: “At this time Southside Travellers would ask the media and the public if they could please respect the privacy of the families and give them time to grieve in peace.

“I’m sure that down the road they will give interviews, but at present, for the next coming weeks, that they be left alone to grieve in peace,” she said.

She also dismissed reports on the alleged causes of the Carrickmines fire.

“There were no official results as yet as to how the fire started. We don’t have the answer to that yet,” she said.

‘Emotional event’

For the extended Connors family, the act of arriving at their new temporary site on Saturday at Ballyogan Road in south Dublin was “a very emotional event”, Ms Dunne said.

“There was one family missing and that was visible when they came in and it was a really emotional journey back to Dublin for the families yesterday.

“At the moment the families are satisfied that they’re in the area that they want to be in. They’re satisfied that they are able to come back and stay in Dublin without having to move on again tomorrow and the next day.

“We do hope it is a temporary situation and we will be working with the council on this in the coming weeks and months to ensure that.”

Asked whether the family was angry at Rockville Drive residents who blocked them from living on a site in the area, she said that they “didn’t share views on that situation” but that it “didn’t help anyone”.

On the closure of so many premises in Wexford town on Friday as the Connors funeral took place, she said: “Wexford did have a lot of security in place in many shops and local pubs over the funeral.

“The family, I don’t think, even recognised that. It’s a discussion down the line, I think.”

She said that, overall, she had “faith that the fire authorities will start their work and that a tragedy like this will never happen again.

“But I do think that the agencies and Irish citizens as well and political will, will have to step in to ensure that Travellers do get the accommodation they need in the future.”

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times