Anything Good In The Economist?



Cars blocking a JCB from entering a field to work on a site earmarked for Travellers who were left homeless following a fire at a halting site in Carrickmines last October

Travellers—Ireland’s only indigenous ethnic group—have existed for centuries, though there is no academic consensus on when the community became distinct. They have their own language known as Cant, which seems to be a mix of Irish, English, Hebrew, Latin and Greek.

Historically, they lived in caravans in encampments on the side of the road or in fields. But today, most of Ireland’s 30,000 travellers live in houses permanently or reside in halting sites, especially built to accommodate mobile homes. Here, they exist in an uneasy balance, neither properly settled nor free from a long history of marginalisation and discrimination that has led to high rates of poverty.

Many halting sites, including the one in Carrickmines, are supposed to be temporary. The living conditions in them are often poor, with overcrowding, poor sanitation, little access to water and electricity.

Despite underperforming at school and an unemployment rate of over 80%, travellers seem to have borne the brunt of austerity: between 2008 and 2013 the community experienced cuts of 85% on housing and education schemes.

Their health is also woefully poor: traveller men live 15 years less than settled men and women live 11 years less than settled women. The suicide rate is six times higher than the rest of the population; the infant mortality rate is of 14.1 per 1,000; in the settled population average is 3.9 per 1,000.

And travellers make up a disproportionate percentage of the prison population. Men are between five and 11 times more likes to be imprisoned than settled men while traveller women are 18-22 times more likely to be behind bars.

How Ireland’s traveller community remains on the margins (The Economist)

Previously: Worth The Licence Fee

34 thoughts on “Anything Good In The Economist?

  1. ahjayzis

    “Ireland’s only indigenous ethnic group”

    Eh, where did the rest of us roll in from, then?

    1. phil

      Well my family have been in Kerry for about 500 years, we can trace the line back to Sligo to about 800 years, before that we emigrated from Wales , and before that I think we were somehow descendant from Charlemagne…

      But we did enter Ireland illegally, there was no visa system at the time

      1. ahjayzis


        I think my lot came over from Scotland a few hundred years ago, but were Irish before becoming Scottish or something like that, bit of a back and forth.

        I mean, in a sense the first settlers in Ireland were by definition nomadic “travellers”, but does anyone really know where the Travellers came from? I’ve heard they were the dispossessed during the Famine or way, way older.

        I think he meant they’re our only indigenous ethnic *minority*, inanywayz.

          1. Tony2

            You mean Gaels not Celts. The Irish are a fine mongrel folk made up of all kinds of European types but we were never ‘celts’,m – not in the way there would be ‘Irish celts’ capable of dying out or not. We absorbed Celtic blood and artistic influence like we got similar attributes from the Vikings and Anglo Normans and Brits… Which is all fine and dandy and I like travellers but not everything they do. Pretty much like settled people. And cats also

    1. realPolithicks

      “Men are between five and 11 times more likes to be imprisoned than settled men while traveller women are 18-22 times more likely to be behind bars.”

      It’s more like the present day United States.

    2. phil

      Not just the state, Im guilty of some less than civilized behavior towards travellers in the past myself, I am trying to better myself though and regret my behavior….

    3. han solo's carbonite dream

      while I don’t disagree with you , they don’t exactly play ball as a community either.
      It’s hard to support a group when little comes back.

      1. Cata

        In general they play ball. Unlike certain members of the settled community who bankrupt the country, and makes us pay back the billions. They’re the vandals, but no one blames the settled community as a whole for this.

        1. han solo's carbonite dream

          it’s not the same – their community is a real community while this settled community you speak of doesn’t actually exist.

          I don’t doubt your good heart but your post is rubbish and worse still stolen from Paul Murphy TDs manuscript on socialist utopia.

          1. Cata

            They don’t exist? Is that you Bishop Berkeley? They exist, I’ve seen them, spoke to them, listened to them.

          2. han solo's carbonite dream

            oh lord….
            you know exactly what I mean but decided to play dumb…

            well done

      2. phil

        Han, I decided a while ago, to do my best to behave like a reasonable human, and if the rest of the community wont reciprocate, Ill just double my efforts and hope it rubs off…

  2. MadMax

    99% of travellers “play ball” – 1% don’t. It’s the 1% that give them a bad name(just like the 1% in the “settled” community). If they want the rest of the country to respect their way of life and provide them with bays and facilities that they can come and go from place to place, then they need to treat those spaces with respect as well and not leave them trashed up. It works both ways and they can’t blame attitudes towards them when there are a small few who rip old people off, leave places in ruin, steal from shops…then they pull the racism card…

    1. ReproBertie

      Everytime members of the travelling community say negative things about the settled community it’s because they are racist.

    2. Owen C

      Its more than 1%. And its a complicated term, “play ball”. My own personal experience recently.

      I’m renovating a house, reasonably extensively. Obviously some debris etc is either in a skip out on the main road, or at the side of the house. The location of these is important. I don’t have any problem with Travellers coming around and picking out bits from the skip (though i would worry they’ll later find no use for these bits and dump them on the side of the road, as opposed to the actual waste dump which my builder will bring them to), they’re welcome to try and make use of things I have no use for. However i do take issue with them coming into my garden, unannounced and without permission, and routing through the things at the side of my house. When i come out of the house to firmly (i was only in the house at the time coincidentally, so I have no idea how many other times they have come in), but politely, tell them to please leave my property, they act quite offended and i remind them that they should know better than to come on to private property, and its very different to rooting through a skip on public property. They then tell me that I’m not being “civil to them”, and there’s a mild element of unease as they kinda stare me down, all while they are still standing on my property. Only after suggesting that I can call the guards if they’d like to talk to someone more “civilly”, do they eventually leave. Now, if I walked on to a Traveller site, and started rooting around for stuff, what sort of reception do you think I’d get? I i walked onto my neighbours land, and started rooting around for stuff, what sort of reception do you think I’d get? This isn’t serious criminality or some sort of terrible behaviour, but it is nonetheless behaviour which I shouldn’t have to worry about. Please do not tell me that only 1% of travellers would do something like this. It insults everyone’s else’s intelligence to claim such.

      1. ahyeah

        Sadly, this is very true.

        At least they didn’t start whistling and calling for an imaginary dog that supposedly ran into your back garden.

    3. Rob_G

      “99% of travellers “play ball” – 1% don’t.”

      From the article:
      “Men are between five and 11 times more likes to be imprisoned than settled men while traveller women are 18-22 times more likely to be behind bars”

      – I would guess that this would put the figure for bad Travellers at somewhere over 1%

  3. Tony

    Unfortunately travellers are like many other “dispossessed indigenous tribes”. Aborigines, Sami, Native Americans suffer from the same issues. Its a basic fact of being poor adapters. Some tribes/people are better at it than others. Society moves on, but some can’t adapt and therefore suffer from isolation and insulation. Until travellers do adapt to the new world they live in, they will continue to face challenges. The world is not going to stop and “repossess” them. C’est la vie. And its not racism, just poor evolutionary strategy.

    1. jack johnson

      Dispossessed indigenous tribes ???? So the travellers are the First Nations of Ireland ? Well knock me over with a feather – are we falling for this poo ?

  4. phil

    I must say fair play to all commentators , I expected a much different scenario to play out , maybe I’m speaking too soon, but can you imagine this piece being discussed over on thejournal ….

    1. Kieran NYC

      That’s because Anne wasn’t along to tell us that discrimination and abuse can be defeated just by ignoring it…

  5. jack johnson

    “Cant, which seems to be a mix of Irish, English, Hebrew, Latin and Greek” – would ya ever fupp off

  6. bubbleandsqueak

    When was the last time any Traveller parents got in trouble for not sending their child to school?

  7. Jack Ascinine

    Borne the brunt of austerity? Did they lose all their jobs or something? Were their caravans foreclosed on? Maybe if the councils weren’t spending so much money cleaning up their filth around their sites and houses, there would be more money for education and housing.

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