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Racism As Experienced By Irish Travellers

Travellers are a distinct ethnic group within Irish society "They are an identifiable group of people, identified both by themselves and by other members of the community, as people with their own distinctive lifestyle, traditionally of a nomadic nature but not now habitual wanderers. They have needs, wants, and values which are different in some ways from those of the settled community".
- (The Travelling People Review Body 1983)

"The single most discriminated against ethnic group is the 'Travelling People'". ( European Parliament Committee of Inquiry on Racism and Xenophobia 1991)

Ireland is the only European country not to ratify the UN Convention on all forms of racial discrimination. The United Nations has recommended that Ireland do so as soon as possible.

Travellers are widely acknowledged as one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Irish society. Travellers fare poorly on every indicator used to measure disadvantage; unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, health status, infant mortality, life expectancy, illiteracy, education and training levels, access to decision making and political representation, gender equality, access to credit, accommodation and living conditions. It's not suprising therefore that the Economic and Social Research Institute concluded, "…the circumstances of the Irish Travelling People are intolerable. No humane and decent society, once made aware of such circumstances, could permit them to persist." The ESRI also stated that Irish Travellers are "… a uniquely disadvantaged group; impoverished, undereducated, often despised and ostracised, they live on the margins of Irish Society."( ESRI, July 1986, paper no.131)

The following gives us some idea of the impact of racism and discrimination being experienced by the Traveller Community.

(Dept. of Health 1987)

Traveller men live on average 10 years less than settled men do

Traveller women live on average 12 years less than settled women do

Travellers are only now living as long as settled people did in the 1940's

The number of Traveller children who die in their first year of life is three times higher than that of the settled population

Results of a survery on discrimination: (Irish Traveller Movement 1996)

89.7% of Travellers said they went to a pub for a drink

77.2% had been told to leave the pub

78.6% had been refused a drink

70.8% said they had been refused because "we are Travellers"

5 out of 10 said they were asked to leave a shop

6 out of 10 had experienced others being served before them.

6 out of 10 had been" made a show of " in the shops

60.8% said they had tried to book a hotel

75.7% of these had experienced problems

46.9% said it was because "we are Travellers"

44.9% were asked to leave or cancel

3 out of 10 had been "made a show of" in the hairdressers  
Original source