Travellers and life expectancy figures

 

Sir, – John FitzGerald offers an excellent overview of the greatest good news story of modern times – that we enjoy longer, healthier lives (“Poor people die younger: we need to understand why”, Business Opinion, July 5th).

His description of the impact of poverty on the data is valuable, but in the Irish context perhaps warrants an addition.

The Travelling community here experience lives that are quite inconsistent with the rest of society, a pattern that merits more attention than it receives. Male Travellers die over 15 years earlier than their settled counterparts. A document covering the decade up to 2005 (Travellers’ Last Rights) found that only half lived beyond the age of 40, and described astonishing levels of suicide and road traffic accidents, especially among males. Various forms of high-risk behaviour, social isolation and poverty appear to contribute.

Remarkably, this 1 per cent of our population now has roughly the same life expectancy that the settled community had in the 1940s. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN O’BRIEN,

Kinsale, Co Cork.