CEO of the Traveller Movement, Yvonne MacNamara said the following: Why is this Government pouring so much money into this issue when it would cost far, far less to provide sites for Gypsies and Travellers? Nomadic Travellers make up a minority of the Gypsy and Traveller population, yet the Government push ahead with these draconian and costly policies. A 2009 report from the Equality and Human Rights commission showed that the total number of nomadic Gypsies and Travellers would fit inside one square mile of land. This latest consultation in the run up to the general election is a blatant case of electioneering and treats Gypsies and Travellers as political footballs once again.
While local authorities pump millions annually to remove unauthorised encampments, the other issues facing the communities are ignored. This includes the high rates of anxiety and suicide, poor health outcomes, school exclusions and cuts to Travellers Education Services, and chronic levels of economic and social exclusion. This constant focus on clearing unauthorised sites denies us the opportunity to interrogate these wider issues. In criminalising the most marginalised and vulnerable members of the community, we risk pushing them over the edge. It solves nothing.