Irish Travellers are a traditionally itinerant (or travelling) ethnic minority group in Ireland. Although, they were not officially recognised by the state as such until 2017.
Segregated from the general population, the Travelling community has faced widespread stereotyping and discrimination. According to the All Ireland Traveller Health Study published in 2010, Irish Travellers suffer widespread ostracism. And due to a combination of factors such as inadequate housing provisions, lower access to education, and lack of social supports, Irish Travellers live in relative poverty and ill-health in comparison to the general population.
Indeed, Travellers typically experience higher levels of mental health problems. For instance, the suicide rate among Irish Travellers is six times the national average and accounts for 11% of Traveller deaths. Census data has also shown that Travellers have poorer overall health and higher rates of disability when compared to the general population.
RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION
According to a published study carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) on behalf of the Irish Human Rights Equality Commission (IHREC), Irish Travellers are 22 times more likely than members of the wider populace to face discrimination when seeking out private services, such as in shops, pubs or restaurants.
Similarly, a survey conducted in 2000 by Citizen Traveller found that
- 36% of Irish people would avoid Travellers
- 97% would not accept Travellers as a member of their family
- 80% would not accept a Traveller as a friend
- 44% would not want Travellers as community members; and that
- 27% did not find Travellers’ lifestyles socially acceptable
As a result, Irish Travellers are disproportionately impacted by issues such as homelessness. Traveller communities also report high levels of ethnic profiling and over-policing. According to a report published by Dr. Sindy Joyce — who in 2019 became the first Irish Traveller to graduate with a Ph.D. — young Travellers are typically subjected to “continuous checking, stopping and searching without any particular reason.”
“Travellers have been trying their best to survive on the same limited facilities and spaces as they have done for many years. To this day, however, many halting sites throughout Ireland don’t have access to clean running water or bathroom facilities.”
T.J. Hogan is a proud member of the Travelling community from Farranree in Cork city. He is the coordinator of East Cork Traveller project and a Traveller activist who has worked and volunteer on social issues facing disadvantaged communities.
Drawing on his own experiences, T.J. very kindly contributed a piece on the hardships and difficulties faced the Traveller community in Ireland as they attempt to navigate the pandemic without little to no access to basic amenities and supports. To read the piece, please click here.
For more information on Irish Travellers’ rights and organisations, you can visit the websites of the Irish Travellers Movement, Pavee Point, and the National Traveller Mental Health Network. If you or anyone you know is an Irish Traveller seeking information or medical advice during the pandemic, you can call the HSE hotline at 1800-808-809.
Page last updated: 12.54, Thursday 14 May 2020