Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

TD rejects traveller racism claim

Environment minister Phil Hogan has rejected accusations of abuse of power and racism
Environment minister Phil Hogan has rejected accusations of abuse of power and racism

Environment minister Phil Hogan has rejected accusations of abuse of power and racism after he weighed into a dispute to prevent the housing of a traveller family.

The under-fire TD defended the fact he sent a letter to some of his Kilkenny constituents, assuring them the McCarthy family would not be housed in the Bonnettstown area.

"If families make representations to me, as a local deputy I have to respond and I have to give that information which they may not have been aware of in the local authority," the minister said.

Fianna Fail communities spokesman Eamon O Cuiv said the interference was illegal under equality laws and called for Mr Hogan to make a statement on the issue immediately.

"At face value, this is a very serious issue," said Mr O Cuiv.

"A Government minister personally interfering in a housing allocation process to prevent a traveller family being housed on the basis of them being travellers would be an extraordinary abuse of power."

Mr Hogan said he was entitled to disagree with the charge.

Patrick McCarthy, the father-of-seven, at the centre of the minister's advice said he would have no intention of meeting the minister if asked.

"I don't know why the neighbours should not want me here. I never caused any hassle here," he told RTE Radio.

It is understood there had been anti-social behaviour in the area and Mr Hogan's constituents had appealed for them to be housed elsewhere to avoid potential trouble.

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