Why the prejudice against Travellers?
Having only lived in parts of the U.S. bereft of Travellers, I rarely hear about them, except in the context of offensive portrayals of them as tactless drunks on exploitative shows like TLC’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, et. al. However, I’ve come across a couple of events over the past few days that show how they are still being discriminated against in Ireland, so I felt as if I should at least address it.
Recently, ten people died in a horrific fire at the Carrickmines halting site in Co. Dublin, and local authorities are currently in the process of figuring out temporary housing for the victims whose belongings and living spaces were destroyed. The plan was to create an emergency halting site on a nearby estate, but they were unable to execute this, because the non-Traveller people who live in that area objected. So, after Wednesday, the 15 people who survived the fire will be homeless, because of these other people’s bigotry and selfishness.
Also this week, a Roma family was awarded €60,000 because the gardaí unlawfully removed their son from their residence. Because he was blonde, “members of the public” had assumed the family had abducted him, so they reported them to the police, when in fact the child has a type of albinism.
I believe that one of the reasons people are typically prejudiced against a community is because they don’t really know about /understand that community. So although I don’t have the time to go into an extensive history of Travellers and prejudice against them in Ireland, I would like to link now to a few articles about the community for those (like myself) who are relatively unfamiliar: the basics, history, fun facts, dispelling myths.