Local councillor makes inflammatory statements about Irish Travellers

10 September 1998

The Irish Independent reported on May 13 that a councillor of the West Heath Board of county Galway had been accused of incitement to hatred on May 12 after he compared Travellers to dogs. Councillor John Flannery reportedly told the West Heath Board that the recent murder of Mayo shopkeeper Ms Eddie Fitzmaurice bore "all the hallmarks" of Traveller involvement. He also stated that Travellers expected everything to be done for them and gave little in return. "They lay out sunning themselves like pedigree dogs and should be made to work," he claimed. "Passport-style record books should be issued to them so they would be 'locateable'," said Councillor Flannery. "Even our livestock are traceable," he added, and suggested that Travellers should be tagged with micro-chips. His comments outraged some of his colleagues, and Travellers' rights activist Ms Ellen Mongan subsequently called for his resignation. She qualified Councillor Flannery's remarks as "absolutely horrendous", accused him of inciting others to hatred and suggested that Fine Gael, Councillor Flannery's party, should look at the calibre of people it had within its camp. Senator Margaret Cox said the tone of the debate was "regrettable" and former minister Terry Leyden branded the remarks as "fascist".

In other news pertaining to Irish Travellers, the Nenagh Guardian reported on July 11 that no decision had been reached concerning the provision of a halting site in the town of Thurles in county Tipperary in south-central Ireland. Councillor Michael Sutton evidently proposed the measure, according to the article, "in a bid to stop caravans from parking anywhere they like". Thurles Councillor Martin Kennedy reportedly stated that there would be "blue murder" if any one particular site was chosen, since local opposition to Travellers was so intense. Councillor John Kenehan was reported as saying that it was a very emotive issue which the local council "did not have a hope in hell of solving." On July 9, the Irish Times similarly publicised local opposition to a halting site in a former quarry in Duacute;n Laoghaire in county Dublin.

(Irish Independent, Irish Times, Nenagh Guardian)


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