Galway Traveller Movement (GTM ) said that the family that had been waiting to move into the house at Carnmore, destroyed by fire early on Monday morning, is devastated at the news that it woke up to this week.
GTM said that the first and primary responsibility is now to ensure that the family immediately impacted by the fire is fully supported and protected. The family had hoped to move into its new home in the coming weeks, after years of living on an unsafe and unhealthy Galway City Council halting site.
GTM said that if the Garda investigation now underway found that the fire was started deliberately, the arson would be a serious and insidious crime, not just aimed at one family, but against the entire Traveller community.
It also pointed out that the fire meant that a valuable property, purchased by the City Council, was now severely, and needlessly damaged, which was a cost to all.
The GTM said that it was difficult to accept the rationale of public representatives and others that there should be more consultation with communities if and when a Traveller family was moving into a neighbourhood.
“If a settled family was moving into an estate, there would be no consultation or perceived need for consultation,” Margaret O’Riada, co-ordinator of GTM. “The fact that consultation is even expected is indication enough of the endemic racism that exists when it comes to the Travelling community and its right to accommodation.”
Galway Traveller Movement has been campaigning for decades to improve accommodation for the community across Galway City and County.
Since 2017, this has been intensified with its Traveller Homes Now campaign. Last December it presented its third monitoring report in two years on the deplorable state of Traveller accommodation in Galway.
The report documented that no meaningful progress had been made by the councils to respond to the “uninhabitable, unsafe and unhealthy” accommodation in which many Traveller families are being forced to live.
GTM will await the outcome of the Garda investigation before making further comment.