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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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One year on: No empathy for families of five children and five adults burned to death

Five adults – one of whom was pregnant – and five children all died when a fire broke out at a Carrickmines halting site last year.

FIVE ADULTS, FIVE children and an unborn baby burned to death on this date last year when a fire broke out at Carrickmines halting site.

The tragic event shocked the country with thousands of people sending condolences, making donations and attending candlelit vigils.

The fire killed Willie Lynch, his partner Tara Gilbert and their two children Jodie and Kelsey, and Willie’s older brother Jimmy Lynch.

It also claimed the lives of Sylvia Connors, Thomas Connors and their three children Jim, Christy and Mary (who was only six months old).

One year on from the fire and the bereaved families are still living in a temporary halting site in a public car park.

90396396 Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

Actor, activist and Traveller John Connors told TheJournal.ie, “Them people will never be the same again.

That kind of thing is very hard to get over but also the aftermath and how they’ve been treated and what they were promised after that. They were meant to be housed on a site by now, but they’ve got nothing.

90396844 Source: Mark Stedman via RollingNews.ie

Local residents objected to plans for the bereaved Traveller families to be accommodated at a council owned site beside a housing estate at Rockville Drive on an emergency basis.
Some people even blocked access to the site with their cars.

90396835 Writing reading 'Travellers are people too' painted and then painted over at the entrance into the site that was earmarked for survivors. Source: Mark Stedman via RollingNews.ie

The Love/Hate actor told this website, “I went down there to try and discuss what the problem was with those people that objected and none of them would have a discussion on camera with me.

It was a field that they had nothing got to do with that the council owned and they objected because they were worried that property prices would go down if Travellers were living next to them and it’s as simple as that.

“What kind of country are we living in that people have no empathy at all after nearly a whole family being burned to death.”

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Instead, the families were accommodated at a public car park in what Connors describes as “a former dump beside a dump”.

When you look at even articles TheJournal.ie did on that, if you look at the comments section under the story, you’re talking about hundreds of comments and about 90% of them saying ’10 less knackers’ … that was really, really tough.

Connors added, “the council was at fault” claiming that Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council broke its own fire regulations by putting the cabins right next to each other.

90396926 Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

“They rigged the electricity outside and put it up against trees. They welded shut the fire hydrant two weeks before the fire because they were wasting too much water.

“The fire brigade couldn’t get to the fire hydrant right outside the site and had to go a mile down to plug in which was a loss of three or four minutes where they could actually have saved a life.

Most people don’t know this and guess what? Most people don’t care.

In response to these comments Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council told TheJournal.ie that Dublin Fire Brigade used a fire hydrant just 50 metres away from the site.

Addressing the claims about fire regulations and electricity wires being put up along trees, it stated:

“DLRCC undertook major refurbishment work on the Glenamuck Road site in April 2015 – including extensive works on the electrical system on the site. All works were carried out by a competent and accredited electrical contractor, were certified and completed to the relevant standards. At no stage were electrical works undertaken by DLRCC or it’s contractors in the manner alleged [by Connors].”

‘We’re not going anywhere’

Connors said that politicians need to understand that Travellers do not want to be broken up.

“There are evictions happening all the time up and down the country with this new audit thing.

“It’s meant to be a good thing, that we don’t want another Carrickmines tragedy happening, but that actually gives the State the power to evict Travellers again because that’s what they have been doing for the past 50, 60 years.

They keep evicting us with the idea to break us up and put us in houses and assimilate us but we’re never going to give up.

“We’re never going to break up that culture – family is everything to us, that’s what the most important thing is. We had harsh, harsh policies and we’re still here. We’re not going anywhere.”

Read: Investigation finds fire risks and widespread overcrowding at Traveller sites>

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