Gardaí are investigating a suspected arson attack on a house in Carnmore, Co. Galway. The house was earmarked for a Traveller family after it was purchased by Galway County Council in March. Local residents had objected to the council’s plans. And Galway councillor Noel Larkin had also voiced his opposition to the move.
Larkin has previously attacked the Traveller community, saying they “choose to reject” being “housed and integrated into society”. He also demanded that they “apologise to the settled community for branding them all as racists”.
A “horrifying” attack
Galway Fire Service responded to the incident at 5.10 am this morning. There were no injuries as the house was unoccupied the time. But it did suffer “significant damage” according to a garda spokesperson. Galway City Council had spent over €300,000 to purchase the property for use as social housing.
Travellers’ rights organisation Pavee Point described the fire as “horrifying” and said the incident “shows the level of anti-Traveller feeling out there”. It called on local councils not to be intimidated by the suspected attack and that they “must deliver vital Traveller accommodation”.
Pavee Point also insisted that the government introduce hate crime legislation so that “crimes motivated by racism can reflect our society’s rejection of racism”.
Dr. Sindy Joyce, a Travellers’ rights activist and member of the Traveller community, wrote on Twitter that “hate crimes are prevalent in this country and they are being ignored”.
This is not the first time that accommodation for members of the Traveller community has been attacked. A number of similar attacks have been noted in the last number of years.
Last year in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary vandals damaged a house due to accommodate a Traveller family. At the time the vandalism was described by Margaret Casey of the Tipperary Rural Traveller Network as “incitement to hatred”.
Featured image via Twitter – Screenshot