A judge describing Travellers as “Neanderthal men abiding by the laws of the jungle”; politicians suggesting Travellers could be sent to Spike Island to live in isolation, away from settled people; schools refusing enrolment; and racial profiling of infants – these are all examples of everyday racism. Travellers don’t have to be involved in feuding to be stopped, picked up or questioned by gardaí. Racism is seen as a valid way of the State controlling and punishing the collective by not implementing policies.
Suicide rates in the community are six times than the average for the settled community. And seven times higher for men. The unemployment rate among Travellers is 84 per cent. Endemic racism, poverty, isolation, alienation and lack of opportunity relate to a much larger picture of internalised oppression and systemic discrimination. The low expectations of Travellers as citizens – police do not always protect us – mark our community as beyond the protection of the State.
Pic: Kaite O’Reilly