News Ian O'Doherty

Thursday 21 August 2014

Travellers want separate status? Give it to them...

Ian O'Doherty

Published 01/04/2014 | 02:30

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A home from home: The Traveller community of Dale Farm

So, the great con has once more begun to gain ground. A draft Oireachtas report on Travellers – sponsored by those ever-willing defenders of the weak and dispossessed, the Shinners – wants to grant them separate ethnic status. It is, of course, complete bunkum.

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I debated this issue with Martin Collins of Pavee Point a few years ago and he produced a thoroughly jaw-dropping display of chippy resentment against the rest of his fellow countrymen, accusing non-Travellers of being part of the "white, Irish, settled community" who routinely oppressed them.

But what are Travellers other than Irish? As for the rather fantastic accusation that the settled community is "white", how would we describe Travellers? Brown? Puce? Indigo? One of those colours that's invisible to the naked eye? Marty was back in the papers again yesterday with his claims that: "My people are an integral part of this island and we have been since the Fifth Century. Recognising our ethnicity would show we are valued and respected for who we are – something we don't feel at the moment."

Well, I'm sure we can all join together in a tearful, shame-filled candlelit vigil, all quiver of lip and snotty of nose as we self-flagellate and worry about how we can make "his people" feel a bit more welcome in this apartheid State, where the non-white settled community are treated so badly.

I used to see this as just another flannel job from the diversity lobby, a group that has done so much to Balkanise the United Kingdom that everybody now has their own, official separate racial classification and any legitimate criticism of bad behaviour is immediately denounced as being the equivalent of Der Sturmer circa 1938.

Brigid Quilligan of the Irish Traveller Movement also complains that: "If one opens a newspaper or turns on the television, anti-Traveller sentiment is fired at one. As Travellers, we experience this in our daily lives and we try to set about changing that by making people aware of us and by working in partnership with people."

Has Quilligan ever considered the fact that far too frequently, people become "aware", as she says, of Travellers, because they have been the victim of anti-social behaviour at the hands of Travellers – who then claim some sort of cultural immunity against criticism?

Let's put it this way, I'm from Crumlin, a perfectly fine and respectable, solidly working-class area that only ever seems to make it into the news when some skobie has shot another skobie. Do the people of Crumlin, or Drimnagh, or Coolock or any of the other areas around the country that are routinely derided in the white, settled media – see, anyone can use that term – scream racism and discrimination when criminal elements within their community are publicly slated?

When I see someone from Kildare Road – where I'm originally from – named as a gangster do I take it personally and see it as a campaign of vilification?

No, because the people who live in these areas are even more eager than anybody else to see those animals rooted out from where they live. But y'know what? If Travellers want separate status, maybe it's time we let them have it.

Yes, let's give all these State-funded activists what they want.

But they should be careful what they wish for ...

WHAT PART OF CONSCIOUS UNCOUPLING DOESN'T SHE UNDERSTAND?

So, further proving that rich people don't have to worry about common sense, Gwyneth Paltrow has insisted that she might actually join Chris Martin and Coldplay on tour. In fact, she giggled inanely that: "I might be their new roadie!"

Now, given the fact that any roadie I've ever met would strangle her with a guitar lead if they thought they'd get away with it, I wonder how the rest of the band feels about this exciting new development?

After all, when she first came on the scene, she insisted that none of them was allowed to smoke or drink on the tour bus which, as you can imagine, wasn't very well received by those who weren't actually married to her.

In fact, once she started to insist on her macrobiotic madness being observed on tour, she was quickly dubbed 'Yoko Ono' by everybody else.

Thing is, Paltrow probably took that as a compliment.

#CANCELCOLBERT? HOW THE LEFT WILL EAT ITSELF

Proving that some people don't get satire, Daily Show spin-off The Colbert Report is facing calls for its cancellation after a joke about the easily offended offended the easily offended. On this occasion, self-described Asian 'writer/activist' (usually a sign that the person hasn't mastered either) Suey Park took umbrage and started the campaign #CancelColbert.

In a rather fractious interview on HuffPost Live On Friday, she sparred with the host and claimed, when he said her opinion was "stupid", that: "White men definitely think they can talk over me."

That's unfair on the host.

After all, when she refused to take any further part in the item, she insisted on saying: "I don't think I'm going to enact the labour of having to explain to you why that's incredibly offensive."

So, given her turn of phrase, I imagine that lots of people, not just white ones, tend to talk over her.

Irish Independent

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