Ireland is riddled with “a high level of racism and hate”, the Seanad said as the government was urged to ensure that proposed hate crime legislation will apply to public officials and local authorities.
Independent Senator Eileen Flynn made the call as she also welcomed media attention to criticism of public comments by a Fianna Fáil councilor last month who voiced opposition to Galway City Council’s plans to house members of the Traveler community in a house he bought in Renmore, a suburb of Galway city.
Former Mayor Cllr Michael Crowe told Galway Bay FM that the Traveler culture was ‘not conducive to life with most sedentary communities. He also claimed that “history has proven” that such a decision frequently leads to “confrontation and general unease”.
Cllr Crowe later apologized for his remarks and Taoiseach Micheál Martin criticized them as “completely unacceptable” and “not at all” in line with Fianna Fáil policy. The party was taking the issue very seriously and would engage with the adviser, he said.
Ms Flynn, a traveler, thanked colleagues at Fianna Fáil who told her “how disappointed they were to see this kind of behaviour”.
She added that “five or six years ago we wouldn’t have had this media attention and that shows me that our relationships are changing and we are changing.”
But she said “there is a high level of racism and hatred in this country, including online and especially towards the Traveler community.
“Unfortunately the racism towards our community has normalized and it feels like all is well as they are just Travellers.”
She asked Health Minister McEntee to address the House “on where we are with good hate crime legislation that also represents local authorities, city and county councillors, MPs and senators. “.
Cllr Crowe had urged Galway City Council to widen the parameters of who could qualify for the house.
“I understand that everyone has the right to a home and everyone has the right to be housed, but I don’t believe placing members of the traveling community at the heart of Renmore is conducive to the occupants of the house themselves. themselves or the local community. “, he said in the interview.
“I’m not sure too many housing officers would like a Traveler family to move in next to them…but yet there’s nothing wrong with forcing that on other people. And I don’t believe that’s fair,” he added.
He later apologized on Twitter and said “there are cuts and pushes in politics, but there’s no room for the sweeping generalizations I’ve made about travel people. For that, I’m sorry.