Áine Ryan and Michael Duffy
As Padraig Nally settles back into life on his Cross farm, a row has broken out over the treatment of travellers in Mayo.
Leading travellers’ rights solicitor, Kevin Brophy, has claimed that anti-traveller sentiment is once again sweeping the country, particularly Mayo, in light of Mr Nally’s acquittal last weekfor the manslaughter of John ‘Frog’Ward.
Mr Brophy, who is well known to many Mayo travellers, having acted for them in actions against Mayo County Council, also described Fine Gael TD for Mayo, Michael Ring, as ‘disingenuous’ for saying that the Nally case was not race-related.
Mr Brophy referred to two other high profile court cases involving travellers in Mayo to highlight the anti-traveller feeling in the county.
“It is not surprising when you see that there was a blanket ban on travellers being served in Westport pubs some years ago and a judge attempted to ban travellers from outside a certain radius of Castlebar,” said Mr Brophy.
However, Deputy Ring strongly rebuked the criticism of his comments.
“He knows as well as I know that this case is not race-related. The cold, hard facts are that a man with 70 previous convictions, and four warrants in existence for his arrest, entered another man’s private property.
“And, Mr Brophy has a cheek to suggest that Mayo people are against travellers. I invite him to come down to my clinic any Monday and see how many travellers I help on a day-to-day basis. I am proud to call many travellers good friends of mine,” he said.
Deputy Ring added that now is not the time for a man who claims to promote traveller rights to be accusing the people of Mayo of being ‘anti-traveller’.
“The last thing we need is more accusations and recriminations. The case is now over and we have to accept the ruling given by the 12 jury members,” added the Westport-based deputy.
Click here for in-depth reaction to the Nally verdict