Cork Traveller Rights Groups have called for “support and respect” following a “significant outbreak of Covid-19” at a number of Cork Traveller sites.
The Cork Traveller Women’s Network and Cork Traveller Visibility Group have been on the ground and staff are doing their utmost to contain the spread of the virus and provide support to very vulnerable people during this public health crisis.
In a statement, the Traveller Rights Groups said however the current situation has caused “extreme hardship and stress” to families.
One local said ‘there is not a family in Ireland who isn't affected one way or another. Can you imagine then what it is like trying to cope with this virus, while living in inhumane living conditions, including not having running water and sanitation facilities?
“On top of that, the stress of reading hateful, vile racist comments online and in the media is causing levels of distress we’ve not seen before.” The groups acknowledged the efforts made by local service to respond to the emergency situation that has arisen as a result of Covid-19 infections in the past week.
However, they stressed that the current crisis has been exacerbated by the neglect of the Traveller families living in the sites for so long.
A spokesperson said “if we learn anything from this crisis is that when people are left to live in overcrowded, inhumane conditions, they get sicker faster and in greater numbers. At the very least Cork City Council need to commit now to making sure families including babies and older people have access to the most basic of facilities for the duration of this pandemic.” The groups also issued a plea to all media outlets to “limit the spread of hate and racist comments, to respect the privacy of families struggling to cope during this extremely difficult time.”