Tag Archives: Travellers

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From top:  John Connors (above) and Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show last Friday

You may have seen actor John Connors speak to Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ’s the Late Late Show last Friday.

Mr Connors’ appearance came ahead of his documentary, called I Am Traveller, to be  broadcast on RTÉ Two on Thursday night.

Grab a tay.

Ryan Tubridy: “I’ve heard you saying that you felt that the Travelling community were well represented in Love/Hate in a way that you hadn’t before. Is that the case?”

John Connors: “Yeah.”

Turbridy: “Did you enjoy playing that role?”

Connors: “Yeah, I did yeah. Though I think, because what it dis was for the first time it portrayed a culture realistically – we talked in our language and we had our music involved. I know that I was a pipebomb dealer making pipebombs and, you know, killing people…”

Tubridy: “So you were delighted with the representation?”

Connors: “Yeah, 100%.”

Laughter

Connors: “But you see the way I justified it in my own mind…”

Tubridy: “Go on, why?”

Connors: “Every other settled person there was killing people..”

Tubridy: “Yeah.”

Connors: “So once there’s one Traveller killing people, it wasn’t too, we had to balance it up a little bit.”

Tubridy: “So we’re all ok then?”

Connors: “Yeah.”

Tubridy: “Ok. Well you’ve made this programme, the documentary called I Am Traveller and I watched it and it packs a punch, let’s face it. And it’s, I guess, well why don’t you tell me: what is it? Or why is it called, even, I Am Traveller?”

Connors: “Well it’s called I Am Traveller because RTE called it I Am Traveller.”

Tubridy: “You didn’t decide it?”

Connors: “No, no, the original name was actually The K Word, knacker basically. And I thought that was a powerful title but..”

Tubridy: “Did you want to call it The Knacker?”

Connors: “No, The K Word. Just to show, just The K Word, to show the power behind the word.”

Tubridy: “Yeah.”

Connors: “You know what I mean? And to show that. But RTE changed that, probably shouldn’t go down that road.”

Tubridy: “Tell us, it’s a pity in some ways because it would have said, it would have packed a bigger punch, for you, cause you wanted to say it and highlight that.”

Connors: “Yeah, yeah, 100%.”

Tubridy: “And why, why The K Word?”

Connors: “Why The K Word? Because, well because knacker is a word that’s used day in, day out in Irish society, and it’s used towards Travellers and it’s a very hateful word.”

Tubridy: “Yeah.” Continue reading

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This afternoon.

Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre

North Great Charles Street, Dublin
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President Higgins with Sabina Higgins (right) and Molly Connors, before delivering a speech to mark Pavee Point’s 30th anniversary that urged greater understanding of traveller and Roma communites and touched on the recent tragedy in Carrickmines. More to follow.

Update:

From President Higgins’ speech:

“The campaigns for equality and non-discrimination, for recognition of the status of Travellers as an ethnic minority, and for access to essential services, which Pavee Point and others have led since then have been grounded in a deep and profound understanding of the position of Travellers within the framework of human rights and the Irish State’s obligations to respect, protect and promote those rights.

In the past I have been part of the debate on ethnic status. I recall Dr. Joshua Castellino and I rejecting what we felt was a very inadequate research basis for denying ethnic status.

Within the framework of human rights, there has been progress over the intervening years and it is important that is recognised.

Back when Pavee Point was formed, Traveller children were still segregated in Traveller schools and many Traveller children left education without completing primary school and were often illiterate. The very idea that these children could attend third level colleges was often beyond their own comprehension.

Today overt segregation in the classroom and beyond have ceased, more Traveller children are attending second level schools and young Travellers are achieving high levels of educational attainment, and increased numbers are progressing through third level education each year, but we are far from the fullest understanding of the heritage, culture and aspirations of Travellers as a people that is required. My own experiences of the institutional treatment of Travellers at local authority level were far from satisfactory.

It has often made Sabina and I not just sad, but angry at the treatment which Traveller families who had become our friends had to endure, including having to live in unsafe and even hazardous conditions.”

Full speech here

Pic Hans Zomer

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This afternoon.

Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin

Members of Pavee Point and the Roma Centre hand over (to junior justice minister Aodhan O’Riordan) a petition of 5,463 signatures from people offering solidarity with the bereaved families and the wider traveller community in the wake of the Carrickmines fire tragedy last month.

The groups are seeking the set up of a Traveller Agency to drive “improvements in traveller accommodation, health, education and employment”.

From top: Michael Collins, Manu Paun and Patrick Reilly; Co-directer of the Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, Ronnie Fay, Tessa Collins, Labour Party Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality and Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Aodhan O’Riordan and Tracy Reilly

(Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie)

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People who support the plan for Travellers to use the site in Rockville Drive; and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council’s statement this afternoon

[The] second meeting between residents of Rockville Drive and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council officials ended a short time ago. The council has just issued a statement saying, it has taken on board the residents’ concerns and that it emphasised that this site can only be used for a six-month period. They have agreed to continue with discussions.”

Back in the estate, other residents have gathered on the street. Some have expressed anger over allegations being made they are ant-Traveller. They say their concerns about anti-social behaviour and the suitability of the site are well-founded. While a number of them attended last night’s vigil to express their sympathies over the halting site’s deaths.”

A handful of protesters in favour of opening the site arrived into the estate this morning, they claim there is no basis for residents’ fears.”

Joe Mag Raollaigh on News At One earlier.

Meanwhile, the Irish Traveller Movement has posted a piece written by David Joyce on its Facebook page.

Mr Joyce writes:

“Five children dead! Five adults dead! A seriously injured 4-year-old still in hospital! All of whom have died or suffered injury in what may have been absolutely preventable circumstances. Five days or so on from what was and still is, to a large extent, genuine sympathy for the victims? We now have a complete circus of media comment, condemnation, recrimination, and counter recrimination.

“Where is media reasonability in a time of national tragedy? Ireland and the Irish people have suffered a number of tragedies this year. In the summer we, as a nation, lost six young people in tragic circumstances in a foreign country. We all collectively mourned the loss of potential in those young people to our nation arising from that needless tragedy.

When an international newspaper suggested that those victims may have brought it upon themselves and engaged in perpetuating stereotypes of the Irish as heavy-drinking, noisy louts who wreck property, and showed no respect for their neighbours, there was widespread, national repulsion at all levels – forcing a reaction and an apology from the New York Times.

“Five days after a tragedy of greater proportion in terms of loss of life, with victims not even buried, Irish media outlets have gone into a frenzy of victim blaming allowing through their social media sites a river of vitriol that perpetuates stereotypes of Travellers as heavy-drinking, noisy louts who wreck property and show no respect for their neighbours.”

“But not content with such standard poison, the media outlets’ facilitates and allows comments that include ‘10 less robbers’, or ‘who would want robbers thieves or burglars living beside them’.”

“I was born in a caravan and grew up in a Traveller tradition living on campsites and on official halt sites. My two eldest children were also born in caravans and spent their formative years living on halt sites and campsites. One graduated and left Ireland, like many of our young, for economic reasons.”

“He has a found a greater welcome and acceptance teaching in a foreign culture and country halfway around the world then he might ever find in his home country. The other graduated into the medical profession among the top percentile of her class.”

“When I think of the loss of life in Carrickmines, I think of the loss of potential to our community and our nation. I don’t recognise the gross stereotypes of the Traveller community.”

“Of course it is the job of newspapers to report the tragedy as news, and that is what they must do, but when will the Irish media take some responsibility and close down the comment facilities at least until the victims have been buried?.”

“I don’t expect an apology from the Irish media for the victim blaming that has emerged on their media sites. I would expect, in line with one of the greatest of Irish traditions, a semblence of respect for the dead.”

Irish Traveller Movement (Facebook)

Pics: Zara King

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A statement from Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council this lunchtime, following discussions between the council and residents of Rockville Drive, Carrickmines.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke to Pat Kenny on Newstalk about the situation unfolding in Carrickmines.

Enda Kenny: “Look, the funerals haven’t even taken place of these ten people. Of course, these things have to be dealt with. But there is a procedure and a process by which you can consult with local people at a time of tragedy and say, “look, we need to use this field”.

Pat Kenny: “Do you think the council jumped the gun?”

Enda Kenny: “Well I think, I think there’s a really deep sensitivity here and obviously consultation and conversation with communities is very important. I hope that can take place today. If not already, if not already done so. The funerals of these adults and innocent children haven’t even taken place yet and obviously the council are more than anxious to accommodate…”

Pat Kenny: “Do you understand the reservations of the residents?”

Enda Kenny: “Well I think, in any community around the country, you have to balance here what’s happened. This is an appalling tragedy with ten people, loss of lives, to stand there in the site and see what’s in front of you, speaks for itself, it’ll never leave my mind actually. So council reacting here saying, ‘where can we house these remaining families in a temporary capacity?’ It’s necessary to consult, of course, with local communities. And I can understand that balances need to be got here. These funerals haven’t taken place yet. And obviously the community will respond in the way that they’ve shown their sympathy…”

Pat Kenny: “But the residents even predicted that they would be vilified for their stance, even though they feel they have a case to make.”

Enda Kenny: “Well I’m not sure, I haven’t seen all the comments about this but, if you’re going to move and make a change in terms of any kind of facility, it’s always good to tell the local community. Invariably they respond when things are fully explained to them and I hope that this can happen here too.”

Taoiseach calls for consultation with local communities over Carrickmines  accommodation (Newstalk)

Previously: ‘I’d Urge The Residents To Search Deep Inside Their Conscience’

Via Richard Chambers

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Cars block a JCB from working on a site earmarked for the Travellers left homeless by a fire at a halting site in Carrickmines at the weekend; and Martin Collins

Further to the blockade at Rockville Drive in Carrickmines, Dr Gavin Jennings spoke to Martin Collins, co-director of Pavee Point, this morning on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Dr Gavin Jennings: “Those who were left homeless, by Saturday’s halting site fire, where are they now?”

Martin Collins: “Well, first of all Gavin, over the years, I’ve had my disagreements with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council but on this occasion I really have to commend their leadership, their courage and their sense of urgency in finding alternative accommodation for these homeless Traveller families. So I think they must continue that courage and that leadership even in the face of such adversity and hostility from those local residents. I also want to commend the support of the wider community in Carrickmines and indeed in Sandymount at the surrounding areas. This small number of people involved in the blockade are certainly not representative of the wider community who have shown great support and solidarity to these Traveller families in their time of stress and need. I have to say, Gavin, I mean, I’m 30 years involved in the Traveller struggle, I’m 48 years of age, I’m on the the planet, for 48 years, as a Traveller man, I have never witnessed such depth of hostility and hate towards my community as I have on this occasion. I think this small number of individuals in this estate are completely and utterly void of any humanity and any compassion. And I think their actions are only compounding the stress and the trauma that these Travellers families are already enduring. And I think any right, decent, sensible, fair person looking at this situation, would see it that way.”

Jennings: “So those who have been left homeless, where are they now Martin? Because some, most of these, are relatives of those who were killed. Isn’t that right?”

Collins: “That is correct. I suspect Gavin that maybe they’re staying with family members, you know, in a kind of make-shift arrangement, a temporary arrangement. By no means satisfactory.”

Jennings: “Has that been since Saturday, Martin? They haven’t been staying on the site since the fire, have they?”

Collins: “No, I, I honestly don’t know where they’re staying but I suspect they would be staying with extended family members. Others might be staying in temporary accommodation, offered by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, maybe some hotel rooms. But this site that Dun Laoghaire Rathdown has earmarked will take care of their medium-term needs until a longer-term solution is found. I would urge the residents to reflect on their actions and the stress and the trauma that they’re adding to these families’ lives. It’s just, it’s unbelievable and it’s unacceptable.”

Jennings:Martin we couldn’t get any of the residents to speak to us on tape or on the programme. They had told our reporter who was there yesterday that one of their primary concerns was that while the council were telling them this was going to be a temporary solution, they feared how long termporary would be. Now, given that the site where the fire happened, was itself only supposed to be a temporary location, that, and correct me if I’m wrong, turned into a, it was there for seven years. Can you understand their concerns?”

Collins: “I think that’s an absolutely fair point. I can understand where the residents are coming at, from that perspective. But I think, you know, it’s not beyond solicitors or the legal systems’ ingenuity to develop a contract that is water tight that this site would exist for a particular period of time. There’s ways and means around this Gavin. But I do appreciate the point that’s being made in that regard because I know myself from working with different county councils across the country, when you do develop sites, it’s meant to be temporary, two or three years, and the next thing we know it’s there 25 years. So I do accept that point. And I’m not suggesting that this site would be there for any long period of time. This is an immediate emergency. We need an immediate solution so Dun Laoighaire Rathdown have time then to locate a site that would be a long-term solution to meet the needs of these families. So that’s how Pavee Point sees it and we would encourage Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to continue to find a site and we really commend their courage and their sense of urgency. And I would urge the residents, at even this late day, to search deep inside their conscience and ask themselves, you know, is this right? What they’re doing? And I’ll think they’ll find it is not right and I’d say they’re only adding to the pain and suffering that these families are already enduring.”

Listen back here.

Previously: ‘A Peaceful Stand-Off’

Pic: RTE and Derek Speirs (Flickr)

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Travellers by Mick O’ Dea.

Aisling writes:

In the early 1990s, community activist Martin Folan approached Mick O’Dea about working with Travellers. O’Dea painted a series of nine close-up portraits of Traveller men and women, without any props or background identifying them as members of the Traveller community. He painted them, in his own words ‘without any emphasis on their status in life.’

The paintings lay in his studio on Henrietta Street  [Dublin] for 24 years, until late 2014 when Pavee Point contacted him to know if they still existed. After the exhibition [see below], the portraits will go on permanent display at Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre.

Martin Folan is remembered for accompanying Travellers on a pilgrimage from Limerick to Gougane Barra. Tragically, he took his own life in 2014.

exhibition is a chance to honour the contribution of Martin Folan to the Traveller community- but it’s also a chance to see work by Mick O Dea which has never been shown before. The portraits will hang in the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery (Chancery Lane, Dublin 8) until the end of this week.

Kevin Kavanagh Gallery,  

Pavee Point