‘Torrent of abuse’ for Love/Hate actor after Traveller defence

Equality forum told reaction to John Connors shows confusion about what racism is

A Love/Hate actor has been on the receiving end of a torrent of abuse after speaking out against racism towards Travellers, a conference on equality has heard.

John Connors (24), a settled Traveller who plays the part of pipe-bomb maker, Patrick in the RTÉ TV series, was subjected to the abuse on social media after last week describing racism against Travellers as Ireland's "last acceptable racism".

A conference on equality for the Traveller community today heard that discrimination and racism towards travellers was rampant, particularly on social media.

Hannagh McGinley, chair of the Galway Traveller Movement, compared the life of a Traveller in Ireland today to that of a leper.


Ms McGinley, who is a PhD student and Irish Research Council Scholar, said that while the terminology used to describe travellers had changed since the 1960s, little else had improved.

“If we look at the situation on the ground for the vast majority of Travellers - for some of us things have changed - there’s 1.4 per cent with third level education. For the rest of the community, things haven’t moved on, haven’t progressed,” she said.

“Suicide is almost seven times higher [in the Traveller community] - that’s horrific.”

She described racist abuse levelled at Travellers through social media as “horrific”.

“I mean, John Connors from Love/Hate - that lad is getting an awful lot of abuse on social media. If he says anything - he’s out there now in the public eye and under huge scrutiny - if he says anything…he made a statement about racism towards Travellers being the last acceptable form of racism,” she said.

“Anything he says that’s printed in the media is then subjected to loads of abuse on social media - in the commentaries underneath. I was reading some of the stuff last night. People have such a lack of understanding about what racism is.”