Missy Collins and Ronnie Fay, 2014 ©Photo by Derek Speirs

By Missy Collins, Traveller Primary Health Care Worker and member  of Pavee Point’s first Traveller Health Project set up in 1991 .

Ronnie was an extraordinary, outstanding, powerful  woman.  In lobbying for Travellers she never took no for an answer and she had that strength.

We were involved in going to meetings with politicians and civil servants and I often said to her before a meeting – what do you think?  And she would say to me- you’ll know yourself when you’re there.  She was always, always encouraging and I got my confidence that way.  When talking about Travellers no one could contradict me because I knew about Travellers’ needs.  I had no fear and Ronnie was behind that.

The first time I met her she interviewed me for the health training course.  We were halfway through the interview and I said to her – what’s me chances of getting this place on the course?   And Ronnie said to me “Well Missy – your chance is as good as anybody else’s.”  I always remember that.  And later that day I got the call to say I had a place.

I remember, as well, meeting with the health board about setting up our own Traveller health project.  And they told us it wouldn’t work.  Ronnie was at the table too and there were about 14 HSE staff.  And I asked why wouldn’t it work? And they said  one – you’re not educated and two – it’s Travellers going out to Travellers.

And I said that’s where we’re needed.  And we didn’t win that day.   They just  said ‘no’.  And I said I will be back.

We came back about two months later and the man said ‘You’re not giving up.” And I said no and they agreed to pilot our project for 9 months.  And from that the project built up.   Ronnie was encouraging us every step of the way.

She was a lovely person.  I always thought highly of Ronnie and she will be sorely, sorely missed.   As my brother Pat said to me: ‘Ronnie she’s your right hand woman.”