‘Branding residentsbigoted ill-judged’
Adrian McAuley made the comments after Dermot McElmeel of the Irish Camping and Caravan Club (ICCC) wrote in a letter published in this paper that “caravanners are not penniless alcoholics who enjoy terrorising local inhabitants.”
In a reply published in today’s Sentinel, Mr McAuley said this view has never been expressed by residents.
“As Secretary of the Limavady Road Residents Group I would like to respond to the letter and article in the Londonderry Sentinel on March 27, 2013.
“Mr McElmeel of the ICCC makes the assertion that locals view caravanners as ‘alcoholics that want to terrorise residents.’
“This would not be the view our group holds, nor would we ever articulate such a view. If Mr McElmeel had taken the time to study what we did say, he would quickly realise that we have consistently said that we support the need for proper facilities for caravanners and motorhomes in our City.”
Mr McAuley said residents were interested in protecting the historic park and that issues around “parking, traffic, noise, light pollution and the possibility of travellers were raised at a public consultation.”
But he added: “I’m unaware of people being personally critical of caravanners.”
Mr McElmeel recently said the proposed St Columb’s Park facility will boost tourism and jobs and that Londonderry missed out in 2007 when the ICCC attracted 1,400 caravans and motorhomes from all over Europe to a ten day rally in Cork.
Mr McElmeel made the statement after Limavady Road residents objected to the camp site because they thought it would be turned into a Traveller halting site after Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013.
But Mr McAuley stated: “Mr McElmeel needs to understand the history of the proposed site in that it was always part of St Columb’s Park and was sequestered in the late 70s for security purposes.
“Our clear understanding was the land would be returned to the park when the security services were finished with it.”
He also disputes Mr McElmeel’s ability to assure residents it will not become a ‘halting site’ in future.
Stated Mr McAuley: “He goes on to give an ‘assurance’ that the site will not be turned into a ‘halting site’, something the owners of the site have yet to give, so I’m not sure from where he gets his authority.
“Mr McElmeel in his letter to the editor, states the St Columb’s Park application replicates the Camac Valley Caravan Park in South Dublin.
“I am familiar with this site and it could hardly be described as a city centre location as it is about 10 miles from the centre, in fact, Phoenix Park is much closer to Dublin City Centre, but strangely enough they don’t allow caravans!
“The ICCC are entitled to their opinions and entitled to voice them, but giving assurances they clearly cannot give and branding residents as bigoted against caravanners is not the way to go.”
Mr McAuley said Derry City Council provided residents with a synopsis of comments made at a public consultation meeting about the proposed campsite but the comments outlined by Mr McElmeel were not listed.