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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Miss Ireland favourite says reality shows not a true reflection of Traveller life

Anita McSorley

Published 13/07/2014 | 19:22

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A young Traveller woman and this year's Miss Ireland favourite has revealed that television programmes documenting Traveller life are not true reflections of reality.

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Sarah Jane Dunne (24) said that she and many other Travellers don’t like how the shows portray their community.

“I don't like them. I know many Travellers who would tell you the same thing: that they don't like it and they don't like how it portrays Travellers,” she said.

In an video interview with Barry Egan for the Sunday Independent, she showed disbelief at what these shows contain.

“One of the programmes I watched, there was something about 'grabbing' - you know, this notion how Travellers get into a relationship.

“The man grabs the Traveller girl. It is ridiculous. Like, if my dad ever saw a man grab me like you see on that programme... it just wouldn't happen,” she said.

Sarah is a model, Trinity College graduate and the first Traveller entry in this year’s Miss Ireland contest that she is hotly tipped to win.

She is also the daughter of the late Pecker Dunne, a gifted traditional musician, story teller and activist who played with The Dubliners, Christy Moore and The Fureys. She said he would have been very proud of her.

“He would have loved it," she said.

"I remember when I went into other pageants and I'd be in the local papers, he would be in hospital and he'd have the paper and he would be showing it to the nurses: 'That's my girl there.'

"So to see me get this far in a competition he would have been proud as punch. He was my biggest fan,” she said.

The secondary school teacher said she is glad to be portraying a more positive representation of the Travelling community.

“I'm on a platform now where I'm seen as a positive representation of the Travelling community, and I am very happy with that," she said.

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