Sunday 23 July 2017

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

A home from home: The Traveller community of Dale Farm
A home from home: The Traveller community of Dale Farm
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

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.

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."

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