herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Basic needs of Travellers still not being met, says President

Anniversary

President Michael D Higgins says the needs of Travellers are not being met
President Michael D Higgins says the needs of Travellers are not being met

There are basic needs which have not yet been provided for the Travelling community, President Michael D Higgins has said.

Speaking at the 30th anniversary of the Pavee Point Travellers' Centre, President Higgins said the recent Carrickmines tragedy has brought these issues to the fore again.

He asked for a moment's silence for "the great sadness" which resulted in the loss of 10 people in Carrickmines, Co Dublin. Families of the victims will meet President Higgins in Aras an Uachtarain tomorrow.

Response

"The impact of such an immense loss as that recently on the Gilbert, Lynch and Connors families and all those who knew them and all of the community, is a profound one - but words are simply insufficient to convey one's response to it," President Higgins said.

"But there are many important issues arising from this tragedy, that all of us in Irish society must take into account.

"In relation to health, education and housing, it is not rocket science to note the distinction between a transient, a temporary and a permanent site, and what is necessary to provide shelter, water and electricity and all of the different things that one can need."

He said that it is in this way that Travellers can participate on their own terms in society.

"In the 1980s the arrival of Pavee Point spoke about participation and about Travellers getting into the conversation and then it was about what they say being taken seriously.

"As I left public life, I was well aware that it was a journey that wasn't completed, in relation to both the nature of the conversations and the form and the structure of decisions."

Speaking about the organisation's anniversary, Co-Director of Pavee Point, Martin Collins, said: "We have always endeavoured to show leadership, courage and innovation in addressing Traveller exclusion and inequality. We have never taken the path of least resistance. If something needed to be done, we did it."

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