I was so sad to hear about the tragic death of Dale Farm resident, John Flynn, last week. He was a beloved and integral member of the community, a man of integrity, devoted to his wife, children and grandchildren. I will remember him as a man who was always smiling, and was welcoming and looked out for me even when I was a complete stranger to him during my first visits to Dale Farm.
His death occurred whilst he was awaiting the latest court ruling that would decide his and his family’s fate and affect their ability to continue their way of life. The Homeless Department of Basildon District Council (BDC) has concluded that he and his wife (along with many others at Dale Farm) will be made homeless if an eviction ensues, and they therefore have a legal obligation to provide them with suitable accommodation. John and Mary (along with another couple, Barbara and John Sheridan) appealed to Southend County Court asking that the BDC provide culturally appropriate accommodation to Travellers (a plot of land suitable for a trailer) as opposed to standard bricks and mortar. John and Mary have lived in a trailer and travelled their entire lives, until their age, limited mobility and poor health now no longer allow it. For the past seven years, they have lived on a small plot of land at Dale Farm next to their grown children who look after them on a daily basis.
Now, just days after his death, Mary has found out that Judge Dedman refused her appeal and she may be forced into a flat on her own if an eviction goes ahead. There is increasing worry that, particularly since the evictions at Hovefields, this could be an imminent reality for Mary as residents could receive their 28-day notice letters from BDC any day.
It is simple. The Travellers at Dale Farm unanimously want one thing – a plot of land where they can live together as a community; a place where they can preserve what is left of their way of life. For the Travellers, it goes without question that they will take full responsibility for looking after each other when they need it. If they are spread across the country in flats amongst settled people, not only will they be forced to abandon their entire way of living, but scarier and more immediate for the Travellers, they will not be able to look after and take care of their loved ones. Who is going to take care of Mary if she is to take the flat she is offered? They are certain that she will be looked after at Dale Farm, but what evidence is there that settled people would even want her around, let alone be kind enough to a Traveller to look after her?
John Flynn will be greatly missed. For Mary, facing a future without him, which will be decided by people who hardly understand her or her way of life, must be a very scary prospect indeed.
Posted By Susan Craig-Greene
Posted Nov 11th, 2010