Galway Traveller Movement has launched a new anti-racism toolkit to help members of their community take action against racism, discrimination and hate crimes.   The kit outlines Travellers legal rights under the law, and how they can respond to the racism they experience.

GTM spokesperson, Nora Corcoran, says they have posted over 800 toolkits to members of the Traveller community in Galway City and County. “Racism and discrimination are a violation of human rights. They are wrong, they are against the law, and they are bad for mental health. This toolkit aims to support our community in defending themselves against racism.”

Nora says research shows that 70% of Travellers experience discrimination on a daily basis. “And it’s getting worse, not better as more and more Travellers – including children and teenagers – become victims of hate crime. The Government is failing to protect Travellers and it’s part of a general reluctance in Ireland to recognise the widespread discrimination experienced by our community.”

She points to Behaviour and Attitudes research which shows that over 80% of Irish people would not employ a Traveller. “If this discriminatory view was based on someone’s gender, colour or sexuality, there would be a huge outcry.  But there’s barely a whimper about the 80% unemployment rate Travellers face as a result of such racist views.”

Nora is GTM’s Traveller Homes Now Campaign Coordinator, and she says employment is just one of many areas of discrimination. She cites some examples of what Travellers have to face.  On her Confirmation day, a young Traveller and her family were turned away from the hotel they’d reserved for dinner.  The staff told her they were ‘overbooked’.  Nora says lots of families have had similar experiences but this family took a successful case for discrimination against the hotel.

“These are unfortunately the things that we have to do as a community,” says Nora. “But claiming back the right to public spaces is the first step in holding those responsible to account for the hurt and damage caused.”

“We want to encourage more Travellers to use the law to defend their rights. So, this toolkit explains how to report hate crimes to the Gardaí and how to pursue incidents of racism and discrimination.”

The toolkit also emphasises how important it is for Travellers to record the details of each incident. “This increases the chances of taking a successful case, and highlighting the level of racism our community faces.”

Galway Traveller Movement says discrimination against Travellers in Ireland is acknowledged at EU level. The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has expressed concerns about the  accommodation conditions of Travellers. Young children and their families continue to live in appalling, unsanitary and unsafe conditions, they said in a 2022 report.

The ECRI and the Irish Human rights and Equality Commission has also spoken out about the need to legislate against hate crimes to protect Travellers.

“The Government needs to take action to protect our community and support zero tolerance for racism and hate crimes against us,” says Nora Corcoran. “Firstly, they need to ensure the full implementation of the National Action Plan Against Racism. This plan recognises the specificity of the racism experienced by the Traveller community. And, secondly,  they need to enforce meaningful hate legislation.

To get your copy of the GTM Toolkit: “Challenging Racism & Discrimination just email info@gtmtrav.ie .

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