Ideals and Principles of 1916 Proclamation yet to be realised for Irish Travellers

‘Until we have brought about an end to inequality, oppression and poverty and the establishment of a republic which is representative of the whole people of Ireland including the Traveller community…. the struggle for freedom  from oppression continues,’…so reads the Traveller Re-Proclamation of the Republic as read by actor John Connors, whose grandfather participated in the Rising,  at a special event  today.

John Connors reads a Traveller interpretation of the 1916 Proclamation ©Photo by Derek Speirs
John Connors reads a Traveller interpretation of the 1916 Proclamation ©Photo by Derek Speirs

Travellers and human rights supporters gathered outside the GPO today to hear this Re-Proclamation of the Republic and to celebrate Traveller’s role in the 1916 Rising.

“Irish Travellers are invisible in and excluded from Irish history and events that shaped the modern Ireland such as the War of Independence and Civil War,” said Traveller activist Martin Collins in introducing the event.  “It is the powerful and the privileged who get to write history.”

“Irish Travellers and the majority population have a shared history of which Travellers are an integral part but Travellers also have a distinct experience and this needs to be acknowledged which is why we are here today,” he said.

“We only heard last week at the Traveller Pride Awards that the new Minister for State at the Dept. of Justice, Dave Stanton wants Traveller ethnicity to be decided by majority population.  This is a regressive step and totally unacceptable.    We would never suggest that we have to ask men – do women have the right to vote.  Nor would we suggest we have to ask people in the States whether slavery should be abolished – particularly the South.  Slavery was abolished by the leadership of one man – Abraham Lincoln and that’s the type of leadership we need from the Irish Government to recognise Traveller ethnicity.  They need to stop making excuses, kicking for touch.”

The event was organised by Minceirs Whiden, Ireland’s Traveller-Only Forum, whose members pledged their commitment: “To the cause of its freedom from oppression and inequality and to its welfare and to Travellers rightful place at the table of equals where their culture and Ethnicity is recognised and celebrated by such a republic. ”