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Hogan 'pandering to prejudice' says Travellers advocacy group

Pavee Point has criticised the Environment Minister after he wrote a letter to constituents telling them that a Traveller family would not be moving into their area.

Phil Hogan holding a hurley at the Ploughing Championships in Wexford today.
Phil Hogan holding a hurley at the Ploughing Championships in Wexford today.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER PHIL Hogan has been accused of “pandering to prejudice” by Pavee Point, a group which advocates on behalf of Travellers, which said it was “dismayed” at comments in a letter he wrote to constituents.

It was responding to news today that Hogan wrote to constituents in Bonnettstown in Co Kilkenny last May informing them that the McCarthys, a Traveller family, would not be moving into the local area.

Hogan has said that he intervened in the matter after he was told that housing the McCarthys – who had been waiting for over four years for housing according to Pavee Point  - in that area could present a potential for conflict.

He said he passed this information to local authorities “in good faith” and “without any direction”.

The McCarthys were later allocated a house in the same area and Pavee Point said that the letter to residents there “will not assist their integration into their new home, it would not be tolerated for any other family in similar circumstances.

It called on the Minister to show his support for his Traveller constituents by sending a letter to the local community “withdrawing his remarks and supporting the housing of the McCarthy family”.

The group also urged Hogan to express his support for the development of the proposed Traveller group housing scheme in Kilkenny.

The Department of Environment said earlier that Hogan had no plans to issue a statement in relation to this matter.

Earlier he hung up during an interview with a local radio station saying he had commitments at the Ploughing Championships in Wexford which he attended today.

Audio: Hogan hangs up on radio station as he is urged to explain Traveller letter

Videos: Phil Hogan and 3 other people who hung up while being interviewed

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Hugh O'Connell

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