|Sarah Lovely is the Accommodation Worker with St Margaret's Travellers Community Association in Ballymun. A key aspect to her work is to develop an understanding of Traveller accommodation needs and issues in the Ballymun area to inform policy at local, regional and national levels.|
What does social justice mean to you?
Social justice to me is linked with human rights, it is concerned with, and prioritises equality and fairness in society. A social justice ethos is characterised by fair distribution of wealth, resources and power. It relates to welfare and equal access to services in society.
What do you regard as the major problems facing members of the Traveller community in accessing suitable accommodation?
The Traveller community face discrimination at all levels of society; a lack of legislation in relation to accommodation provision coupled with a lack of commitment by Local Authorities to meet annual targets means that there are inadequate units of appropriate accommodation available to Travellers in Ireland. There are currently no sanctions imposed on local Authorities who fail to implement their accommodation programmes. Many families continue to have no choice but to live in poor conditions, often doubling up in halting site bays, living on the roadside or on poorly serviced sites where basic facilities such as electricity, water and sanitation are unstable and insufficient in supply.
The inadequate provision of Traveller specific accommodation is not simply an issue of a lack of resources, more often it is a lack of willingness by officials to engage and consult with Travellers or Traveller organisations regarding proposed new developments and future planning. Often the standard and volume of units of Traveller specific accommodation provided is reflective of the initiative of the personalities in charge of provision. Generally we face a lack of political will to invest in the provision of good quality, culturally appropriate accommodation for the Traveller community, we continue to lobby for change in this area, adequate housing is a basic human right, it should not be treated as a commodity in this regard.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
Some of my friends for their resilience and integrity.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Probably clothes, cosmetics, travel.
Do you have any bad habits?
A few I’m sure!
How do you unwind?
Bikram yoga, glass of wine.
When are you happiest?
When the sun is shining! listening to music/dancing!
Where were you on holidays last?
Paris and Amsterdam this summer
What qualities do you most value in people?
Compassion, adventurous and of course a sense of humour!
What talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to sing or be artistic.
What is your earliest memory?
Being by the sea in Achill
What is your most treasured possession?
Photographs of friends, family and travels
What books or films have inspired you?
Crying with Cockroaches, Born into Brothels, Hotel Rwanda,
What other career/line of work might you have chosen?
Travel/fashion photographer or showjumper! Failing those maybe counsellor /social worker.