Dunsink – the lessons unlearned

YOU have to wonder if the blockade of Dunsink Lane was a ruse to bring issues in the area to a head. It’s hard to believe that a policy imported directly from the West Bank was meant to be permanent.

No reasonable person could support a policy where a whole community is held responsible for the sins of a minority. To simply block a road in order to combat a few criminals without taking into account the basic needs of a community of some 400 people beggars belief.

I heard the local Fianna Fail TD Pat Carey argue some justification for the policy on the radio. He pointed out that many state workers had been intimidated out of the area and that many of the people were living in fear of a number of thugs in their midst.

There is evidence of a lot of criminality there from diesel laundering to car ringing; from illegal dumping to fireworks trading.

And I have no doubt that some or most of this is true. In that case the normal means of going about things is to find the culprits and punish them. Get the evidence, present a case in the courts and get a prosecution. It seems to work on the rest of us.

Of course, the rest of us aren’t Travellers (with a capital T). Although Ireland has finally got many things right over these last 15 Celtic Tiger years, we have still failed miserably to come to terms with the Traveller issue.

The Dunsink situation is a result of a community being left at the edge and kept at the edge.

While the City Council do provide very good traveller accommodation across the city the Dunsink area has been allowed to get out of hand. Of course, the City Council can only do so much as it is not in charge of justice, environment, etc.

Dublin City Council have a Traveller Accommodation Committee but it is not just an accommodation problem. We need joined-up thinking.

The answer is an across-the-board plan for the Dunsink area. Proper accommodation. Sustained services like refuse and maintenance. An overall plan to isolate and deal with the criminals.

The lesson of Dunsink is to intervene before the situation gets out of control. This is the lesson of Veronica Guerin; of the inner city; of the industrial schools. Lessons, it seems, unlearned.

Travellers – so who’s in charge?

SUPPOSE I wanted to find out the latest policy in relation to Travellers, who would I call?

There are over 200 websites listed on the Government web index. None are related to Travellers. There are four pages of Government agencies in the phone book. That’s right, none are…

There’s a reason for this: there is no-one in charge of Travellers affairs in this country.

Instead we have piecemeal policies implemented haphazardly by local authorities.

Surely the issue deserves a junior minister and a state agency at least. Now who would want the ministry?