The 1st March 2017 was an historic and momentous day for the Irish Traveller community and for equality in Ireland.
“This announcement shines a light on Travellers’ rich distinct history and culture and sends out a message of respect and inclusion,” said Martin Collins, Pavee Point Director at the announcement of State recognition of Traveller ethnicity.
“It also lays to rest notions that Travellers are a primitive, dysfunctinonal, failed settled people who originated from the famine and who just need to be normalised and civilised by the State, “ he added.
This announcement heralds a new positive starting point in relations between Travellers and the majority population – a relationship that can only flourish and develop when founded on the vital principle of equality.
“For me it is also significant that this announcement comes in the month where I can also celebrate my nationality – the month of March and the feast of Saint Patrick,” said Mr. Collins.
“If the shamrock was used by Saint Patrick for religious teaching it can also be a symbol for the multi-faceted idea of nationality. One nationality can embody many different ethnicities.”
“We know that acknowledging Traveller ethnicity does not solve the problems that Travellers face in their daily lives – discrimination, unemployment, lack of proper accommodation and poor educational outcomes.
“But respect for our culture has the potential to deconstruct centuries of internalised shame within the Traveller community and allow future generations of Travellers to grow up with pride in their identity.”
Pavee Point has been campaigning on Traveller ethnicity for over 30 years. This campaigning has faced various types of highs and lows. This announcement makes it all worthwhile.
As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said: ‘All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.’Today we move into this third phase.
Ireland’s standing in the international human rights community has also increased as a result of today’s important announcement.
For more information on the importance of Traveller ethnicity click here.