Just 9% of settled people would want a Traveller marrying into family
Survey finds acceptance of Travellers among Irish public lower than for any group
Maria Joyce - National Travellers Women’s Forum; Damien Peelo, Joint Co-Ordinator Travellers Survey; Kathleen Sherlock- Co-Ordinator of the National Travellers Forum Minceirs Whiden; Jacinta Brack - Irish Traveller Movement; Martin Collins- Pavee Point; Nancy Power- National Traveller MABS; and Jules McDonagh, Exchange House Ireland National Travellers Service at the launch of the National Traveller Survey 2017. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Travellers and Roma people remain the most shunned groups by the Irish public, with just 9 per cent of settled people saying they would want a Traveller marrying into their family.
This compares with 28 per cent who would accept a Polish person into their extended family, 25 per cent a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person or 23 per cent a person from Eastern Europe.
While 47 per cent of people would be happy to have a Polish co-worker, just 25 per cent would accept a Traveller as a colleague.
Settled Irish people’s attitudes to 12 different groups, including Muslims, asylum seekers and Jews, were examined for the survey commissioned by Traveller organisations and carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes.
While two per cent said they would “avoid” Polish people, and nine per cent would avoid Africans, 35 per cent of people would avoid Travellers and 37 per cent Roma people.
The findings on attitudes to Travellers and Roma were the “direct result of entrenched, institutional and societal racism and oppression”, said Maria Joyce co-ordinator of the National Traveller Women’s Forum. “It also reflects the hate experienced by Travellers in their everyday lives.”
The survey of 1,007 non-Traveller adults was conducted in addition to a wider survey of Travellers’ attitudes, which found life satisfaction was worse than it was 17 years ago.
A total of 481 Traveller adults were interviewed at 50 locations across the State. Mental health problems were common among the community, 90 per cent agreed, and 82 per cent had been affected by suicide - 44 per cent in their own families.
Some 77 per cent said they had experienced discrimination in “the past year” and 43 per cent said they had encountered discrimination accessing employment. Seventy per cent had experienced discrimination by the gardaí, 53 per cent by pub staff, 51 per cent by hotel staff, 45 per cent by shop staff, 43 per cent from club/disco staff and 39 per cent by housing authorities.
When asked, 40 per cent said either they or their children had been bullied at school due to being Traveller.
Just over 60 per cent of Travellers classify themselves as “satisfied with life in general”, compared with 71 per cent of Traveller respondents to a similar survey in 2001. Only 26 per of Travellers consider life to have improved for the community over the last five to 10 years, compared with 61 per cent who did in 2001.
Just 24 per cent rated their own health as “excellent” with 36 per cent assessing it as poor or very poor.
Ms Joyce said though educational attainment levels were improving slowly - with the average age of school completion now 15 years for the under 24-year age group compared with 13.7 years for all Travellers - parent satisfaction with their children’s education was lower for children under 12 years.
This tallied with a time of “devastating” cuts to Traveller education supports in 2011, she said.