TRAVELLERS AND RACISM

 

Sir, - With reference to Minister Mervyn Taylor's remarks regarding Travellers and racism in Ireland, reported in The Irish Times (March 11th), this is the second time that the Minister for Equality and Law Reform has commented on hardening attitudes, and now racism, against Travellers. His solution to introduce legislation will only, in our view, exacerbate the problem.

Surely, if there is friction between communities, it stands to reason that both communities should have representation on decision-making bodies. This has not happened and we, the members of MEAS, appeal to the Minister to include representatives from our organisation at this level.

The Cross-Care Report, the only report about Travellers which took account of both communities, found a positive attitude towards them. This positive attitude should be encouraged and nurtured, rather than ignored, by Government, which has never allowed representatives (like ours) to have their voices heard. Its only solution is to impose more planning legislation, which will have the effect of debarring the settled community from any redress, and even access to the courts.

The Cross-Care Report, which realised the goodwill towards Travellers, suggested as one of the main solutions to the friction between the settled and Traveller communities that halting sites should come under the planning laws. The imposition of sites in areas which, in equity and in the field of good planning development, should not even be considered, shows a high disregard for the civil rights of settled people.

If Travellers wish to be accommodated in either urban/rural areas, they must have respect for (a) the environment of that area, (b) the property rights of those who live in their neighbourhood. - Yours, etc.,

Chairperson, MEAS (Respect Between Communities), Rosbercon, New Ross, Co Wexford.