First steps in long road for Traveller project
A presentation from Community Development Co-ordinator Davin Power on the Traveller Inclusion Programme eventually descended into a tête-à-tête between himself and Cllr Paddy Kavanagh on issues with travellers in Drumgoold.
Mr Power gave a presentation to council members on some of the programmes which were up and running and being established in Drumgoold such as social groups, literacy groups, providing access to education and supports in areas such as mental health and addiction as well as childcare. He also commented on how this was a long term project and it was vital to start working with traveller children from pre-school onwards, as well as how there is a gap in continuity of services.
In the Enniscorthy District in particular, he said it was proving more difficult to engage men than women and that in Bunclody, travellers were unwilling to move outside of Bunclody to access any kind of services.
Cllr Paddy Kavanagh introduced himself and said that he was from Drumgoold before stating that he 'may have come across as being anti-traveller in the past'
'I'm starting a new project here now,' Mr Power responded. 'The past is the past. It doesn't matter.'
'The people of Drumgoold are among the most tolerant you'll find,' Cllr Kavanagh said. 'There's not many communities would put up with what we've put up with over the last 50 years. Now I realise that it's only a few that give travellers a bad name. I know that they're intelligent people; they've got an innate sense of cunning about them; they're survivors; they can be great entertainers. I think that young males try to impress young females up there (Drumgoold) of a Sunday and that's what it's all about. They've no regard for the settled people living there and that brings problems. There could be sixty or seventy travellers of a Sunday will arrive in Drumgoold. They'd be speeding around, pulling wheelies and messing. That's what gets peoples backs up against them. If you could make some steps towards addressing this, it would be a huge thing for the local community.'
Cllr Kavanagh continued that he applauded the work that Mr Power was doing and said it was vital that things began with educating young traveller men.
'Realistically, it needs to start earlier than that,' Mr Power said. 'It's pre-school we need to start. By the time they get to school, they're already a couple of years behind. I don't mean to sound pessimistic, but this process will take years and years. If you look at the Aborigines in Australia. They've been working with them for 60 years and the work is still ongoing.'
Cllr Johnny Mythen encouraged a link between the project and local sports clubs while Cllr Barbara Anne Murphy welcomed the work and said there was an urgent need to join up services and fill any gaps.
'It may be a long process,' she said. 'But any journey starts with a single step and education is the answer.'