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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019
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UN calls for eviction of Dale Farm travellers to be suspended

The call was made as Dale Farm supporters and residents plan events in the coming days to protest against the eviction of hundreds of Irish travellers.

Members of the McCarthy family below a UN flag been flown at the Dale Farm site in Essex yesterday.
Members of the McCarthy family below a UN flag been flown at the Dale Farm site in Essex yesterday.
Image: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE UNITED NATIONS has called for the suspension of the planned eviction of around 400 hundred people living illegally at Europe’s largest travellers’ campsite in Essex.

On Wednesday, more than eighty families, many of them Irish, at Dale Farm in Essex, east England failed to secure a UK High Court injunction against their eviction as efforts to evict them from the site were stepped up by the local council this year.

Residents at the site have however welcomed a call from the UN’s Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination for the UK government to “suspend the planned eviction, which would disproportionately affect the lives of the gypsy and traveller families, particularly women, children and older people”.

“We urge the authorities to find a peaceful and appropriate solution, including identifying culturally appropriate accommodation, with full respect for the rights of the families involved,” the statement added.

Resistance

Previously, two UN human rights experts claimed the Dale Farm evictions could be in breach of human rights and called on the government to “find a peaceful and appropriate solution, and adequate housing.”

The Daily Telegraph reports that the development has come as up to 100 political activists are holding daily “resistance” training sessions with the travellers and have set up a protest site, known as ‘Camp Constant,’ next to the illegal settlement.

The paper goes on to report that the police are expecting a violent and lengthy stand-off when they move to evict residents with fears that a pile of tyres and hay bales on the site will be set alight to deter bailiffs from entering.

However, Kathleen McCarthy, 48, a traveller, said at a press conference: “They (the activists) are not here to cause violence, they are here to support us. The only ones who are going to cause violence are going to be the bulldozers and bailiffs.

She that residents and supporters are determined to stay on the site, BBC News adds.

‘Special blockade’

According to the Dale Farm blog, a workshop is being held tomorrow on the ‘Freedom of Movement and the Right to Stay!’ whilst a Jewish Solidarity visit will also take place in which Jewish rabbis, citizens and activists will be on site for “a special blockade in support of residents at Dale Farm.”

Next Saturday a demonstration will be held in the local area to protest against what the Dale Farm blog says is “Basildon Council Tories and the Home Office Wasting Millions Bulldozing Dale Farm.”

Traveller families began to set up pitches illegally on greenbelt land at Dale Farm in 2001 with an estimated 400 people on 80 different pitches now facing the loss of their home.

The local authority, Basildon District Council, has been told to find culturally appropriate accommodation for the  families which could delay the eviction for a number of months.

The council, with the support of the government, has called on the travellers to leave the site peacefully. But this appears unlikely.

Read more: London court rules Dale Farm eviction can proceed>

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Hugh O'Connell

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