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If Travellers don't want to be called knackers -- stop behaving like knackers

JUST when she thought her luck may have been about to change, following her win on TV3's Celebrity Head Chef, Twink has received more bad news in the unlikely shape of a Traveller curse.

And all because she used the word knacker.

The Travelling community are up in arms, and Travellers' group Pavee Point have complained that "the word knacker caused offence among members of the Travelling community".


Because in the parallel universe inhabited by some members of that community, every single use of the word knacker is a slight on them, even though that meaning is long since lost on most people, especially in urban parts of Ireland.

The person Twink insulted -- a Shamrock Rovers footballer -- isn't a Traveller, and Twink didn't suggest that he was. She used the word simply as a term of abuse, the way we all do. Knacker, gouger, scumbag... take your pick.

It's ironic that these hurt feelings on the part of the Travellers at the implied slight on their community should coincide with the release of a movie, Knuckle, which gives an insight into their culture of bare-knuckle fighting.


Knuckle shows Traveller men with bloodied hands and faces, stripped to the waist for everyone to see their lardy frames, beating the unmerciful shite out of each other in contests that have no protective gear, no rules, and only end when someone simply can't go on.

Of course, their excuse for this barbarity is similar to that used by fox hunters to defend their sport which involves ripping animals apart limb from limb -- it's "part of what we are", and you can't expect poncy city folk to understand "the ways of the country".

It's also deeply ironic that we're being given a lesson in political correctness by a strata of society which thinks nothing of pummelling each other with their bare fists -- when the mood grabs them to leave their hammers and pitchforks at home -- yet takes offence at being called rude names.

In Pavee Point, presumably, their take on the famous saying seems to be "Slashooks, pitchforks and bare knuckles may break my bones, but names really, really hurt me".

A few years ago, VIP did a photoshoot with 10 young women from the Travelling community. It was part of an initiative to present a positive image of Travellers, and we embraced it 100pc. All the women looked great, and the day passed off perfectly like 99pc of other VIP shoots down the years.

I mention this because I, like most Irish people, have no deep-rooted prejudice against Travellers. I judge them the way I judge everyone -- by their behaviour.

So if they really, really want people to not even associate the word 'knacker' with their community, here's an novel idea. Stop fighting like knackers.