by róisín Kilroy
Protesters organised by the Galway Traveller Movement, Amach! LGBT and People Before Profit led a crowd from the Galway City Council to the Galmont Hotel to protest about Cllr Michael Crowe’s statements about Traveller culture.
Meeting outside the Galway City Council on College Rd, on Monday, October 10, the protesters called for Cllr Crowe’s resignation following his statements about Travellers on the Galway Bay FM show, Galway Talks on September 29. Monday October 10, was both World Mental Health Day and the 11 year anniversary of the Carrickmines fire which saw the death of 10 people, five children and five adults including a pregnant woman.
The protest was led by Galway Traveller Movement Community Development Workers, Nora Corcoran and Nora Mongan.
“Enough is enough. Today is World Mental Health Day, let’s not forget that we have a suicide rate seven times higher than the general population. This is going to impact our community, but we have a message today, we are strong, we are resilient and we are not going anywhere. We are going to hold them accountable and be the voice of the voiceless,” said Nora Corcoran to cheers.
Following Cllr Crowe’s remarks on Galway Talks, Galway Traveller Movement issued a survey, calling for feedback from the Travelling community. The survey received 157 responses, some detailing the feeling of ostracism they felt.
“It made me feel worthless and not wanted by the settled community. I felt absolutely disgusted by what Michael Crowe said on the radio, discrimination from a member of society who is supposed to be there for everybody and treat everyone as equal, but in Michael Crowe’s eyes we don’t belong anywhere near the settled community, or deserve housing,” said Nora Mongan, reading a survey response.
The group set off at 2pm to The Galmont Hotel, the venue of the Galway City Council meeting, one Cllr Crowe was due to attend. Standing opposite the main entrance, the crowd chanted “Get Crowe out” and “Crowe has to go.”
Some city councillors came out to meet the protesters and to discuss a motion proposed by Green Party Cllr, Niall Murphy, which will develop the 2013 anti-racism strategy.
The motion, which was later voted in, stated that, “while there are many areas of society where improvements can be made, this specific action focuses on those holding elected office. Political leaders need to be held to a high standard in combating racism and promoting interculturalism and diversity in Galway.”
Before heading in to the meeting, Cllr Murphy said, “The people who are protesting here today should have a voice in saying what the appropriate behaviour is for councillors when they’re addressing issues of race and the public airwaves.”
Cllr Crowe has since apologised for his statements regarding the Travelling community.