Sunday 4 December 2016

The racism we feel about Travellers is nothing new

In the Fifties, Dail deputies often called Traveller men 'hulking brutes'. They also introduced austerity budgets. Is that a coincidence?

Published 18/10/2015 | 02:30

'Many a Traveller mother would love to see her children educated and getting a job among the settled community. But education is looked upon with suspicion by many Traveller men as the thin end of the wedge to lure the next generation out of the life, the culture'
'Many a Traveller mother would love to see her children educated and getting a job among the settled community. But education is looked upon with suspicion by many Traveller men as the thin end of the wedge to lure the next generation out of the life, the culture'

We have wrestled with the problem of the Travellers for ever. And "wrestled" is the correct term, for throughout the decades we have not so much sought a solution as submission.

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If somebody got up in the Dail last week and said that Travellers were "going in bands, large enough to terrify any isolated women in farmhouses", we would assume they were talking about the current problem of rural crime. But we would also be astonished at their insensitivity in a week when 10 members of an extended Traveller family, mothers and fathers and small children, lost their lives in the most appalling circumstances.

Well those words were uttered in the Dail, but it was not last week, last year or even in the last decade. It was in 1926. And throughout the years since then we have heard similar stuff from our elected representatives without anything much being achieved. We have always been a bit racist about Travellers.

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