Criticism after objections to houses being allocated to Travellers in Castle Park

A public meeting in Castle Park has heard objections from local residents to new houses planned for the area being allocated to members of the Traveller community.

The meeting, which took place recently was attended by some 100 people. Some speakers expressed fears about any of the proposed three houses, planned to be built on green areas within the estate, being given to Travellers, based on, what Cllr Declan McDonnell called local people’s “experience with the activities of some Travellers already living there”.

“Eighty per cent of the Travellers in Galway are on the east side of the city,” said Cllr McDonnell. “That is one of local people’s worries, that it’s going to be Travellers put in these houses, bringing with them the same kind of problems.”

Cllr McDonnell alleged these “problems” come from a “number of Travellers” carrying out business from their houses, including the repairing and selling of cars. He accused them of discarding parts removed from cars in alleyways; leaving cars “with no tax or insurance” on the “side of the road for months on end”; as well as issues relating to horse ownership.

Cllr McDonnell said “not all of the problems were caused by Travellers” as there were also non-Traveller residents “who just did not care about their neighbours or their neighbourhood”.

The Galway Anti-Racism Network were critical of Cllr McDonnell’s comments, saying they risk “encouraging division between communities”. A spokesperson for the group said: “We live in the most multicultural city in the country, this isn’t the way we deal with communities. Regardless of the numerous feasibility studies and employment projects promoted and carried out by the Galway Traveller Movement, some city councillors are failing in their public sector duty to all constituents.”

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