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Calls for Kerry councillor to apologise for Traveller comments

A Kerry County Councillor has refused to apologise for comments blaming Travellers for anti-social behaviour on a beach in the county.

Fianna Fáil Cllr Michael Cahill raised a motion at the recent monthly meeting of Kerry County Council calling for a permanent beach officer on Rossbeigh beach.

Cllr Michael Cahill

Cllr Cahill says this follows instances of anti-social behaviour and intimidation by Travellers, which he was told about but did not witness personally.

Kerry Traveller Health and Community Development Project has called for the councillor to apologise for his comments.

Cllr Cahill told Radio Kerry he has no notion of apologising for telling the truth.

"I'm just saying that it was one group of Travellers that came to Rossbeigh, were very disrespectful to the playground, to the equipment, to the beach-goers," he said.

"They [the beach-goers] were intimidated and their visit was made very unpleasant, to be honest about it.

"I have no apology. It's the truth and I can't apologise for telling the truth"

Manager of Kerry Traveller Health and Community Development Project, Brigid Quilligan says they would support a motion to appoint a beach officer.

File photo of Rossbeigh beach

However, Ms Quilligan says it is more than one community that takes part in anti-social behaviour.

She told Radio Kerry, Mr Cahill's statement damages the reputation of all Travellers.

"We in no way condone any kind of littering or anti-social behaviour, but what we don't condone either is sweeping allegations to a whole community of people," she said.

"The councillor should apologise and he should be more responsible in what he is saying and he should know the impact of what he's saying.

"When he makes a comment about Travellers, people associate that with a whole group of Travellers.

"Traveller children going into school today and tomorrow whose parents might have heard this on the radio, that might be thrown in their face, something they had nothing to do with."

Digital Desk