Dale Farm: 'there were alternatives to forced eviction'

There could have been a more humane way of dealing with the Irish Travellers at Dale Farm, Joe Browne, consultant with the Irish Chaplaincy Travellers' Project has told ICN.  He said:   "I'm very disappointed that Basildon Council decided to enforce this eviction in this way and at this time. We believe it would have been better to wait until an a suitable site had been found for these people and they could have left with their dignity. 

"Basildon Council has completely ignored the moral, political, ethical and economic arguments in this case.  They are spending around £20million to forcefully evict these people.  There were alternatives. Basildon was offered special funding, and two sites, by the Home Security Agency, which would have been suitable.  But the council refused them.  There has been a campaign of misinformation over this.  For the greater part of yesterday, Conservative MP John  Baron and Baslidon Council Leader Tony Ball dominated the media with complete misinformation. They said they had other sites - but these  are  just small temporary  ones - not  sites where the Dale Farm families could settle.  The reality is that they just want these people out of Basildon.

"What is likely to happen next is that the families will try to move to the legal pitches. This will give some of them a short reprieve. Then the Council will say the license holders have broken the bylaws by overcrowding - and they will all be evicted.

"It is shocking to see people being treated so unfairly.  We are talking about 80 families with nowhere to live. 80 families with children being pulled out of the local school where they were settled and doing well.

"When there were floods in Gosport, a village of mobile homes was created for them very quickly.  There are no emergency plans in place for the Dale Farm residents. If their homes are bulldozed - they will only have the clothes they stand up in.  This is a scandal in a modern democratic country."

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