Fellow Travellers


John Joe Nevin with Enda Kenny on Wednesday at Farmleigh.

Peter McGuire, of the  Department of Irish Folklore, University College Dublin, writes:

It’s always a one-way conversation in Ireland. The dismissive cry of “PC brigade” – as though political correctness is a cursed nuisance that stops us from being abusive to vulnerable people – rings out any time a “bleeding heart liberal” points out the systematic discrimination, vilification, and poverty endured by Travellers, and the conversation immediately turns to what Travellers must do in order for the settled community to accept them: they must be free of any taint of crime, the tiny minority of wealthy Travellers must all pay their taxes, Traveller gang feuds must end, and the problem of domestic violence must be curtailed. Although, amazingly, the same problems have also been recorded amongst many settled people, these are indeed serious problems across certain sections of the Travelling community.
owever, if a Traveller commits a crime, the settled community wails that the entire Travelling community are somehow collectively responsible. Travellers, rather than the police force, are told that they themselves must tackle any crime committed by a Traveller, or face the opprobrium of the nation, and legitimately have their genuine social needs for health, education, and housing, ignored. Although they may try, vigilantism is no mean feat for the thousands of law-abiding Travellers who are struggling to simply hold their families together, a struggle that doesn’t tend to leave a lot of time for focus groups, community activism, or even much self-reflection.


Racist Ireland’s Olympic Sized Shame (Peter McGuire, Huffington Post)

(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)