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The Spring Lane site, which was designed for ten families
The Spring Lane site, which was designed for ten families
Image: Google Maps

Councillor accuses Travellers group of "playing politics" over Cork site

The Traveller Visibility Group in turn accused Ken O’Flynn of spreading “misinformation” after he offered to spend the night there.
Mar 5th 2014, 9:30 AM 13,429 158

A COUNCILLOR WHO offered to spend the night in a Cork halting site has accused a Travellers group of ‘selling residents a pup’.

Fianna Fáil’s Ken O’Flynn and Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould had each offered to spend the night at the Spring Lane city on Cork’s northside in an effort to aid negotiations on the site.

Spring Lane was originally built for ten families, but now has 33 families on it.

Conditions at the site are described as “appalling” and a plan to extend the site onto nearby land was voted down in 2011. Families on the site are taking legal action against the council and have made a formal complaint to the European Committee for Social Rights.

Negotiations on the future of the site have been fractious. Both O’Flynn and Gould made the offer to the Irish Examiner, an offer which angered the Cork-based Travellers Visibility Group.

Chrissie O’Sullivan said that the offer had been made “tongue in cheek” and that residents shouldn’t have to convince councillors of the need to engage on the site.

“We’re well passed that in terms of having to convince councillors of the conditions on the site.

“That said, it’s not up to me to see if they should or shouldn’t, but quite frankly Ken O’Flynn has been using this as a smokescreen.

He says he’ll stay the night if we return to the negotiating table with Cork City Council, that’s misinformation. We’ve never stopped engaging with the council.

“People shouldn’t have to put themselves in that situation to convince councillors of the conditions on the site.

“People shouldn’t have to pander to councillors.”

Playing politics

O’Flynn said that he had been invited by residents of the site and agreed to go on the proviso that they drop their court action and negotiate.

“If anyone has been playing politics, it is the Traveller Visibility Group.

“They’re not representing the people living on the site. It’s about time they did the job they were paid to do.”

O’Flynn said that many of the problems on the site stemmed from a lack of meaningful negotiations. He said that negotiations on a number of improvements to the site had fallen apart and the council had ‘bent over backwards’ to negotiate.

“I’m not a tack interested in what the Travellers Visibility Group has to say. I’m interested in improving the lives of the people living on the site.

The Travellers Visibility Group has sold the families a pup.

‘I’d do anything’

Gould said that he had agreed to the offer because of the need to advance talks.

I said I would do anything if I thought it would make a difference.

He says that the site has been mismanaged “from the beginning”. He said that local residents near the site are also dealing with the negative impacts of having the site nearby.

He said that there were a number of options, but that the priority was to bring the site back up to habitable standards.

Read: Cork backs Traveller ethnicity but they don’t want ‘settled people’s approval’

Read: Traveller women refused entry to charity event win District Court case

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Paul Hosford

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