Traveller organisations around the country are calling on
Travellers to fully adhere to COVID-19 public health measures,
including restrictions on funerals. In this way people can show the
deceased the respect and dignity they deserve.
Both the Government and the Catholic Church have stated that
only immediate family members – up to a maximum of 10 people – should attend
church and graveside services and physical distancing should be maintained at
This relates to ALL funerals, including those of people who have
died of COVID-19.There are no post-funeral social gatherings and An Gardaí
Síochana have powers to enforce COVID-19 restrictions during this crisis.
Support Bereaved Families in the Future
These restrictions are not easy and Traveller organisations understand the importance of funerals to bereaved families. We want to make sure people to take the long-term view on this. We want to make sure that as many people as possible are around to support bereaved families in the future.
Bereaved families are vulnerable, may be in a state of shock and
feel unable to get the message across that it’s ok to stay away from a
funeral. But, given the COVID-19 situation, bereaved families do
understand that people need to stay at home.
The reality is that we don’t know who has, or who does not have, the virus – so it is vital that we take ALL precautions. We are all being encouraged to act as if we all have COVID-19 and that’s why we’ve been told to stay at home as much as possible and not to meet up in groups.
Gatherings Put the Community at Risk
The COVID-19 crisis is particularly hard on Travellers given
underlying health conditions and overcrowded living conditions. Gathering at
funerals is a sure-fire way to make the situation worse and pass on the
virus if any one person does happen to have it. This puts the whole Traveller
community at further risk. By adhering to the restrictions, we can do our
part in reducing (as far as possible) further spread of virus and/or prevent
any unnecessary deaths.
Marking the passing of a loved one is hugely important and to see
a loved one buried without the usual ceremonies is very difficult.
But it will be possible in the future to hold a church
service for the loved one who has passed. At that point people will get a
chance to pay their respects in person and pass on their good wishes to the
Alternative Ways to Express Condolences
In the meantime it is possible to communicate via mass
What’s App or Facebook and to pass on messages of sympathy that way. It
is also possible to set up a book of online condolences at www.rip.ie.
Bereaved Traveller families
need our support – not just now but into the future. By staying at home
during COVID-19 we can make sure we will be there for them in the
weeks, months and years to come.
Maria Joyce, National Traveller Women’s Forum
Bernard Joyce, Irish Traveller Movement
Thomas McCann, Traveller Counselling Service
Kathleen Sherlock, Minceirs Whiden
James O’Leary, INVOLVE
Kevin Burn, Exchange House
Nancy Power, Traveller MABS
Geraldine McDonnell, Parish of the Travelling People
Michael Power, Traveller Voice Magazine