Photos: Annie and Tommy McDonagh, members of the Travelling community from Galway’s east side, cast their votes. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy, The Irish Times

Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre congratulates Michael D. Higgins on his resounding re-election as President of Ireland.

Irish Travellers know that President Higgins will continue to represent everyone in Ireland, including the 40,000 men, women and children in the Traveller population with pride, dignity and insight and that he will promote equality for all on this island.

Fighting Campaigns Fairly

Pavee Point also wishes to thank all those candidates that fought the Presidential campaign fairly and without resorting to denigrating a vulnerable minority, even when it became clear that their campaigns would not be ultimately successful.

There is no doubt that there was a protest vote in this election that played to the advantage of one candidate and that not all of this protest vote should be equated to being motivated by prejudice against Travellers.

However, it is important that we also do not gloss over the fact that one candidate sought to exploit prejudice against a small and marginalized community – the Traveller community in Ireland – for his own political ends and the warning that this sends out to the political system in Ireland.

Complacency

There is a complacency within the public discourse in Ireland that somehow we are immune to the nasty populism evident in other European countries and beyond and that we do not have a problem with racism in Ireland. Media often struggle to deal with this populism and this was sometimes evident in the recent campaign in Ireland when it apparently livened up a dull campaign.

Pavee Point notes that there has been no clear anti racism strategy in Ireland since the National Action Plan Against Racism ‘Planning for Diversity’ was completed in 2008 (and was never renewed).

Anti-Racist Protocol

A successful initiative at this time was the roll out of an anti-racism political protocol that all political parties voluntarily signed up to support for general and local elections. This committed political parties to not use racism or to exploit prejudice against marginalized communities for political ends and was largely successful in that regard.

Pavee Point believes that this protocol should be extended in future to Presidential elections and should be inclusive of independent candidates.

All In This Together

“This election should make it clear to everyone that we need strong anti-racism measures in this country,” said Pavee Point Co Director Martin Collins. “ We need stronger legislation in relation to incitement to hatred and hate speech and we need measures which explain the dynamics of racism and discrimination so that people can become more aware of these issues. We need a new National Plan Against Racism”

“We need to move away from simplistic ‘us and them’ news coverage that sets up hierarchies.  There is no ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’.   We are all in this together,” said Mr. Collins.

Photo From article in the Irish Times:  – https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/galway-travellers-vote-after-casey-s-comments-ignite-the-community-1.3677133