When It’s Okay To Hate.

In Blog, Culture, Politicsby Peg Leeson25 Comments

Irish Traveller, Dan, Mary Ann McCarthy's grandson, who is facing eviction from Dale Farm Travellers' site in Essex, photographed at home on July 21th 2010. Photo: The Advocacy Project On Flickr.

Irish Traveller, Dan, Mary Ann McCarthy’s grandson, who was evicted from Dale Farm Travellers’ site in Essex.  Photo: The Advocacy Project On Flickr.

I’ve the alarm clock radio rather masochistically set to RTE One. I find the smug self-satisfied world of our nation’s greatest propaganda machine enough to jolt me out of bed on even these grim mornings.

So imagine my mood as I woke up to a story about a home ear-marked for Traveller accommodation being burnt out in darkest Donegal.

Discrimination to the Traveller community isn’t new. It has a long, ugly history in Ireland. It could be argued that bringing up the topic of Travellers and their rights (or lack of) is as divisive a topic in Ireland as abortion. You’ve only to check the comments under any story on Travellers to see the hate-soaked generalisations. Given that the Traveller population is in the region of 40,000, about 1%, of the population, most of these commentators have never sat down and talked to a Traveller. But that is okay because Donegal’s Cllr Sean McEniff has the answer!

Yep, lurching into conciousness I was treated to the syrupy-voiced bigot trying to defend his comments on the proposed Traveller accommodation just prior to it being burnt out. Because what makes this story all the more juicy then the usual mundane discrimination Travellers face is that two local councillors, McEniff and Cllr Eugene Dolan, called for the segregation of Irish Travellers from the settled community. In keeping with the best apartheid practices of South Africa and the southern states of the USA. Dolan even suggested he wouldn’t care if Irish Travellers ended up in Spike Island. Bear in mind they were talking about a family of 13 which no doubt includes children and infants.

There are calls for McEniff to lose his council seat and the party whip in keeping with the punishment meted out last year to the Fine Gael Mayor of Naas, Darren Scully. And rightfully so.

But for me the arrogance of McEniff suggested a man that knew his constituency well and believed he had a political mandate for his words. Because McEniff and his ilk are voted in on this type of discrimination. To be fair this is not Donegal’s disease but something that is rotten to the core of rural and urban Ireland, a hate that crosses the class boundaries. I’ve sat in rooms with primary healthcare professionals sharing stories of the ‘them’, Travellers who aren’t deserving, who don’t behave the way we think they should, who are dirty, violent and criminal.

Traveller accommodation  if provided, is often on the outskirts of town or in isolated accommodation  Travellers are routinely denied entry to pubs, clubs and hotels. They get followed around shops by the security and their children run the gauntlet of school yard bullying and an education system that doesn’t value their identity or history. They are one of the most marginalised groups in Irish society and they have the early mortality, suicide and infant death rates to prove it.

In a way that house was burnt down by all of us. By those who in their words and actions continue to discriminate against the Travelling Community. By those who vote for parties and politicians who have failed to address the needs of this community for decades. And, even by those of us who sit there and don’t speak up when we hear this shit. Who don’t pull people up for their hate. As with racism, sexism and homophobia hatred against Travellers should have no place in a modern Ireland.

For some on the ball coverage of who Irish Travellers are have a nosey at this.



  1. Lets be realistic here. You can be as open minded and liberal as you like.There is a reason travelers are segregated. A family moving into a house includes, five lovely horses, four transit vans, three fights a day, two mobile homes, and a partridge in a pear tree. It’s unrealistic to expect anyone who earns a living and pays tax, to accept that a traveller family should be given a free house, more dole than they get paid, and then put up with the “nightmare” of have to deal with the hassle they bring were ever they may go.

  2. Rabble just wondering have you or your urbanite friends ever been victims of traveller crime, Unlikely you have. But the community I grew up in about 90% of the community have had crime commuted by them by the traveller community, so is the urban rural divide because urban areas don’t offer the same rewards to them. Saying we have to respect there culture is a bit farcical humanity and society is constantly creating new social Norms and we evolve with them so why should the traveller community not have to evolve with the times. I don’t agree with segregation or what happened in donegal, but this is a life that these people chose to lead there is enough extra funding out there to support them so why should your average joe have to suffer or be seen as a bigot for saying a segment of a community are criminals.

    1. I doubt that 90% have been a victim. Yes like all walks in life travelling communities have their share of those who break the law but just the same as settled communities do too.

  3. Cheers Mark Finnegan. Nice assumptions. I like the 90% stat, not one I’ve come across before. I’m from a village in the west between Tuam & Ballinasloe, regarded as the two main traveller towns in Ireland. Boom!

  4. “traveller crime” says it all really. Crawl back under you rock dick head! People like you make my blood boil. I could say worse but I won’t.

  5. @rabble even travellers know not to shit in there own backyards. I think what happened in Donegal was sickening but there is never anything said about old people in rural communities who have been robbed by members of the traveling community I just feel having read rabble for a while and all the giving out you do about one sided arguments you would have at least had more to say then everyone who has a bad word about a traveller needs re-education. And I assume you don’t live there anymore more Likely in a large urban centre
    Gary I defiantly didn’t say every member of the traveling community were criminals I said a segment where
    Moose traveller crime would be the technical term for a crime commuted by a member of the traveling community it’s not some kind of put down. So say what worse stuff you want to I’m a big boy but check what your saying first next time

  6. A house has been rented out on my street to a traveller family. In the space of four weeks there was nightly street arguments between a drunk wife and a drunk father with crying children screaming. This soon died down after words were said by a collection of the streets residents. Now we just have to put up with rubbish collecting in the front yard, horses and hiaces plus the odd argument still aired for public consumption. There is good reason for people’s attitude towards travellers, not all are bad but the majority don’t trust or like us either.

  7. What a load of crock Mark. Where did you get that statistic from?

  8. It’s funny the way people never talk about ‘settled people crime’.

  9. I grew up in caravans and fail to see what your problem with mobile homes, horses, transit vans and living with, near or next to them is Antonius. Mark I also work with Rabble and don’t live in a city so enough of your generalisations about rabble’s urbanite stance please. I have, on more than one occassion, been a victim of crime, but have never generalised about settled people because in each of these cases the culprit happened to be a settled person. It would be totally bizarre if I had done so! In the last decade or so it has become more and more difficult for travellers to actually travel and many are forced to settle or move into often poorly equipped halting sites. Many, of course, choose to live in houses nowadays, but this should not be to the detriment of their culture or customs. In Ireland travellers are not yet even recognised as an ethnic minority despite their rich cultural heritage and, on the flip-side, the persecution and prejudice they face because of their ethnicity. When people talk about anti-social behaviour amongst the travelling community perhaps it would be wise to examine why this exists as oppossed to using it as an excuse to further marginalise an already oppressed cultural/ethnic group.

  10. Does there culture not except in young men making money from crime? And is this not a right wing religious group that believes in the prolife movement, arranged marriages and that women are second class to there husbands that you are all defending.

  11. I once had to attend a human rights training for an garda siochana in store street. The facilitator, an officer of some high rank himself, started the training by making a light hearted joke. ‘With the amount of human rights related complaints, ye must be using your human rights handbooks as door stops’, he said to a laughing crowd. The real joke was the training itself, and being told constantly by gardai in training how hard their job is, and how it only makes sense that when keeping the peace a few human rights will go by the way side. Not everyone deserves them anyway.
    For the grand finale, the facilitator told us an anecdote about his annual holidays to achill island with his family. He asked a woman present from the traveller community who had spoken about human rights abuses travellers experience, “how can we be expected to respect THEM when THEY always leave the place in a mess?”.

  12. In Dublin there are plenty of travelers. It’s probably for the fact that there is better assimilation among working class Dubliners and travelers that you assume there is town/country divide. if there is such a divide it says more about the conservative nature and inflated fears of some members of rural society than it does about the travelers.

  13. This written with the Hope, that you might high light, the following issue of Unwritten Apartheid in Ireland in 2013. Society and its Policy makers dictate that we should for conform,and become productive within it.40 years and million’s later, nothing has being successful, WHY because our culture was not allowed to progress naturally. Nor does settled society wants us as neighbours, work mates, or marrying into settled society. This APARTHEID.I am a Human being, who happens to be a Traveller, instead of being given an equal chance in life, I am from birth treated unequal, my life expectancy is 12 yrs less of a settled woman, I am statistically Disadvantaged ,my life opportunities will be marginalised due to social exclusion. Integration would not exist, if society respected and tolerated my culture.

    Assimilation phase 1963 (Report of the Commission on Itinerancy, 1963).3
    Integration Phase 1980 – 1990 (Report of the Travelling People Review Body, 1983).4
    Intercultural Phase 1990 – (Report of the Task Force on Travelling People, 1995).5

    I respect settled people, I do not condone acts of crime, nor do I expect special treatment but I do expect to be treated Equally. I am a TinsSmiths grandaughter attending UCC to get a degree.

Leave a Comment