Following on from our bonus blog on Pride a couple of weeks back, we have another wonderful celebration of culture and community taking place nationally. We hand over to our colleague Aoife Foley, National Community Education Worker for National Traveller MABS to tell us more about Traveller Pride.
What is Traveller Pride?
Not to be confused with LGBTQIA+ Pride, Traveller Pride Week is an annual event that celebrates the community, ethnicity, identity, heritage and culture of the Traveller community in Ireland.
Additionally, during this week, we see both national and local events taking place. Traveller Pride events are designed to create a greater understanding and acceptance of Traveller culture in Irish society and highlight the many diverse talents and traditions within the Traveller community. It aims to enable an appreciation of Traveller culture and Traveller contributions to the wider society. Traveller Pride strives to provide recognition for the achievements of individual Travellers both within their own community in enabling progress for the community and within the wider settled community in their contribution to society.
Traveller Pride Week is coordinated by the National Traveller organisations consisting of:
- National Traveller MABS,
- the Irish Traveller Movement,
- Involve Youth and Community Services,
- Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre,
- the Parish of the Travelling People,
- Exchange House Ireland,
- Minceirs Whiden and
- the National Traveller Women’s Forum.
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth provide funding for the festival.
Traveller Pride 2023
This year, Traveller Pride takes place from Monday, 3 July to Friday, 14 July, with events taking place nationwide.
The programme includes more than 40 free events across 22 counties.
The theme for this year’s event is ‘A celebration of Traveller change-makers in Irish history’. It will feature art exhibitions, film screenings, panel discussions, musical performances, workshops, and community gatherings.
Why celebrate Traveller Pride?
Traveller Pride is important because it gives the Traveller Community a visible national space to unite and celebrate their pride in their community, culture, ethnicity, identity and heritage.
We reached out to our colleagues in National Traveller MABS to share with us what celebrating Traveller Pride means to them:
“Traveller Pride is an annual event where we as Travellers get the opportunity to take pride in our culture and to celebrate our heritage and all the good work that Travellers are doing within our community. This also gives us the opportunity to celebrate with the wider settled community of all we (as Travellers) have contributed to Irish Society and be proud of our ethnicity.” – Nancy Power, Coordinator National Traveller MABS.
“Traveller Pride means to me that we, as an indigenous ethnic minority, can show the general population who we are and what we have and can achieve throughout society. We are proud to be Travellers, and Traveller Pride week gives us a chance to show and celebrate this.” – Denise Collins, National Support and Development Worker.
What events are taking place?
Traveller Pride Week 2023 was officially launched on Monday, 3 July, at The Complex Art Centre, 21-25 Arran Street East, Dublin 7, at 5pm. The launch event was MC’d by actor Michael Collins and featured performances by: Helen Hutchinson, Selina O’Leary; David Collins, Trish Reilly; Leo Reilly, Susan Wilde and Johnny Collins.
There are loads of free events across the country, and you can find all the information about what’s happening through the Programme of events for Traveller Pride Week.
Financial Challenges within the Irish Traveller Community
All sections of Irish society face financial challenges due to the cost of living crisis. However, there are several factors which compound the problem for Travellers. These include:
- Limited access to employment: Irish Travellers often face difficulties accessing regular work due to discrimination, stereotypes, and cultural barriers. 80% of Travellers are unemployed, while 83% of employers said they would not hire a Traveller. This means that many Travellers rely on self-employment or casual labour, which can be less reliable and offer lower wages.
- Educational barriers: Educational attainment among Irish Travellers is lower than the national average. Limited access to education can affect employment prospects and financial well-being in the long term. Discrimination and marginalisation are often cited as reasons for disengagement with the education system.
- Housing and accommodation: Access to suitable and secure housing is a significant challenge for the Traveller community. Many Travellers face difficulties securing appropriate accommodation due to discrimination, lack of suitable sites and inadequate infrastructure, which can impact their financial stability.
- Health disparities: Health issues prevalent within the Traveller community, such as high mental health problems, substance abuse, and chronic illnesses, can lead to increased healthcare costs and financial strain.
- Limited access to financial services: Some Travellers may face barriers in accessing mainstream financial services, such as banking and credit facilities, due to discriminatory practices, lack of documentation, or cultural differences. This can limit their ability to save, invest, or access loans and other financial resources.
- Discrimination and marginalisation: Widespread discrimination and prejudice against the Traveller community can obstruct their economic opportunities and social inclusion. Employment, education, and public services discrimination can contribute to financial disadvantages and perpetuate socioeconomic disparities.
- Inter-generational poverty: The cycle of poverty can be prevalent within the Traveller community, with financial disadvantages often passed down from one generation to another. Limited access to resources, inadequate support systems, and social exclusion contribute to this cycle.
Where can I seek support?
Unfortunately, Travellers still face high levels of discrimination and prejudice in Irish society, which can impact their physical and mental health. There are services to help you, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
Additionally, you can also contact your local Traveller project for help and support.
National Traveller MABS
National Traveller MABS works to reduce poverty, discrimination and the financial exclusion of Travellers in Ireland. We work with the Traveller community and organisations to change policy and practice which impacts Travellers financially.
Visit www.ntmabs.org or @NTMABS on Facebook and Twitter to find out more.
MABS support the Traveller community and ensure that everyone who comes to MABS is welcome.
You can reach MABS by calling our National Helpline on 0818 07 2000, Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 8 pm, or WhatsApp at 086 035 3141.
You can find details of your local office near you by visiting Find a MABS office.