Council meets Traveller group to discuss mutual concerns

Nenagh district councillors have raised a number of concerns about the Traveller community with Tipperary Rural Travellers Project.

Nenagh district councillors have raised a number of concerns about the Traveller community with Tipperary Rural Travellers Project.

The project made a presentation on its work and aims to the councillors at the December meeting of Nenagh Municipal District Council. Following the presentation, it was generally agreed that many of the council’s and the project’s aims were similar, but better comunication was required.

“We all understand the importance of the horse in Traveller culture, but there is less room for horses in towns. Perhaps the local authority needs to look at this and liaise with the project,” said Cllr Hughie McGrath.

Margaret Casey, project co-ordinator, said: “We know that in urban areas this is not fair to others and can be a nightmare for residents in housing estates.”

She also agreed with Cllr Seamus Morris that when Travellers pull up at the side of the road its can cause tensions, saying: “We don’t want other Travellers coming in and wrecking our reputation.”

Ms Casey said there was a need to build up a relationship with caravan park owners and a need for transient halting sites.

She told Cllr Ger Darcy she couldn’t justify Travellers pulling up at Congar outside Nenagh, where up to 20 caravans were parked during the summer.

“That’s not normal,” she said. “We need a development officer to work closely with the local authority and someone to say you are wrong.”

Cllr Darcy had said his main concern was one of safety as children were playing “a few feet from where juggernauts were passing. It was dynamite stuff. A child wouldn’t have a hope if it were to fall on the road.”

Cllr Michael O’Meara said the situation at Congar had been a difficult one for both sides. “There has to be give on both sides and there has to be a way of stopping some people coming in and upsetting everybody, including Traveller families,” he said.

Cllr Morris also said he would like to see more Traveller children involved in sport. “We are losing them at 14 or 15 years. They can go missing during the summer when the mammy wants them to play sports and the daddy wants them on the road,” he said, urging the project to engage with the GAA and the FAI, among other organisations.

He was supported by Cllr Joe Hannigan, chair of Tipperary GAA Football Board, who said he was “quite confident” GAA clubs would facilitate Traveller children. “There is an opportunity there and I am sure you would be pushing an open door”.

Ms Casey pointed out that new world boxing champion Andy Lee came from a Traveller background.