Let’s be clear about the Dale Farm case. The traveller settlement there was never legal. It never had planning permission, and the local council has been serving enforcement notices on the people there since they started setting up camp.
It was always illegal, and the fact that they dragged out the process for eight or ten years, at public expense, doesn’t change that reality. They should not be there. What bit of that does Vanessa Redgrave not understand?
It doesn’t matter that a member of the multi-millionaire Sheridan clan bought an old scrapyard and managed to get planning permission for a few dwellings on it. The people who arrived afterwards and set up a gigantic settlement without sanitation had no right to do so.
It’s a pity that their children go to local schools and it’s a pity that one women is very sick, but that arose because of their illegal actions, not because Basildon Council did anything or because the local people did anything. The travellers chose to camp illegally and now they must deal with the consequences, including the fact that they sent their children to local schools and that they made a sick woman live in an illegal camp.
None of this is the responsibility of the Essex authorities. They did not create the situation and neither did the citizens of Basildon. The travellers caused it, even though I’ve probably done more travelling myself than they did in the last few years.
I feel sorry for the children, but the problem was caused by their parents and by nobody else. If I set up an illegal caravan park, I’d be closed down, and so would you.
Why should a different law apply to Rathkeale travellers, or to anyone else? I thought it was all about equality. The same standard for you as for me, even if you happen to be a millionaire from Rathkeale and I happen to be Joe Soap.