Traveller families 'forced to live in dangerous conditions' in Ireland, campaigners warn after deadly blaze

10 people died after a fired broke out at a caravan site in Carrickmines, south Dublin early on Saturday morning

Michael McHugh
Sunday 11 October 2015 22:33 BST
Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday
Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, where ten people from two families, including a mother, father and a five-month-old baby, were killed in a fire yesterday (PA)

Families from the Traveller community are having to live in dangerous conditions in Ireland because of a housing crisis, campaigners have warned after 10 people killed in a fire at a caravan site were named.

Members of two families, including five children, died after the blaze broke out in a housing unit at the site for Travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, at about 4am on Saturday.

Tara Gilbert, said to be several months pregnant, died with her partner Willy Lynch and their children, eight-year-old Jodie and four-year-old Kelsey, the Irish Mirror reported.

Mr Lynch’s sister, Sylvia, 25, and her husband Thomas Connors, 28, were also among the dead, with their six-month-old daughter, Mary, and two of their sons, Jim and Christy. Mr Lynch’s brother, Jimmy, was the final victim.

Police are investigating the cause of the blaze but early signs are that it was not a criminal act, and it is not being treated as suspicious. The Irish Traveller Movement said: “Many [Travellers] have to endure living in intolerable conditions, with approximately a third having to live without access to basic facilities of sanitation, water and electricity. This leads to ongoing health problems among the Traveller community.”

The co-director of Dublin’s Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, Ronnie Fay, claimed: “Many Traveller families throughout Ireland are being forced to live in overcrowded and dangerous situations due to the impact of the housing crisis.

The scene of the fire
The scene of the fire (PA)

“The difficulties in accessing the private rented sector are exacerbated for many Travellers who continue to experience widespread discrimination and find it nigh on impossible to rent from private landlords.

“This is in addition to the cuts made by the Government to Traveller accommodation under the guise of austerity measures with the budget reduced from €40m (£30m) in 2008 to €4m in 2013.” Flowers were laid near the gates of the scene by local community members. The families are understood to have lived at the site for about eight years.

Ned O’Connor, a local resident, said: “It is unbelievable – two families wiped out on one night. This is one of the biggest tragedies in the country, this fire.”

He said those at the site had been good neighbours. “They never seemed to interfere with anyone. It is a lovely site – they always kept it very well.”

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