By Gabi and Tica Muntean, Roma Programme, Pavee Point

Gabi explains – Ronnie was a mentor for me, a teacher and sometimes a doctor. She was never like a Director. She was kind and she knew how to talk to everybody.  You had this feeling that she knew you for a long time.

Tica, Ronnie and Gabi. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

Ronnie was very devoted to her work.  But she didn’t think – what do I have to do.  Work was a passion for her.  I remember we went to a meeting and there was one Roma woman  and Ronnie was talking to her about how to do the work.  A few months later I met that Roma woman and she said to me “I would like to be like that Traveller woman at the meeting.” And I said – “Which Traveller woman? “ And she said “Ronnie”.  And I said “Ronnie is not a Traveller she is a settled person.”  But it was very easy to identify Ronnie as one of us.

She understood Roma people and she knew how to talk to you.

I remember I had to go to Strasbourg to a meeting  and she said to me – when you go mention Traveller and Roma. You don’t need to write it down.  Say it from your head.  When you are speaking from your heart no one knows it better that you.

Roma women rang me this week and asked me was it true that Ronnie had passed away.  I said yes it was true.  And one woman said ‘Oh my God – she was a ‘lulughi’ this is a special word in our language that means ‘flower’.

What Ronnie left behind we have to cherish.  What I think is left from Ronnie is to be in solidarity with one another.  You don’t have to be a Roma or Traveller to fight for Traveller & Roma human rights.   We have to fight for each other and we have to fight for justice.  

Tica Muntean, co-worker at Pavee Point also says – “Ronnie was a fighter for justice and equality for Traveller and Roma. She was a true leader.   I feel blessed and honoured to have known Ronnie .

“We want to send our condolences to Ronnie’s family. Ronnie is going to be missed but we will try to bring to light her fight for equality and justice.”