IRSP & Traveller Activist James Ward gives a personal account of the racism and discrimination endured by today’s traveller community in Ireland
The traveling community is one of the most deprived socio-economic communities in Ireland.
We suffer from high levels of unemployment and lack of education compared to other sections of society. This leads to my community suffering from deprivation, contributing to its high suicide rate and other widespread mental health issues.
It was only in recent years we have been recognised, legally as an Ethnic Minority. Across the country, our communities are forced to live on sites that are simply not fit for humans. Some with no sewage systems, no electricity and no heating.
Some of these sites are so bad that it’s unfortunately only a matter of time before there is going to be a horrific event just like the Carrickmines fire.
We feel ignored in society and judged at every level. I myself have expedienced countless occurrences of being blatantly discriminated against, simply for being a Traveller.
Being turned away from bars and restaurants, being refused service is a near daily occurrence.
Government departments refuse to treat us as equal citizens, denying us housing, while getting rental accomodation can be nearly impossible.
There are a few ‘bad eggs’ in every section of society, yet we continue to be all painted with the same brush.
Racism and discrimination against the traveller community has become an acceptable part of Irish society that needs confronted and opposed.