Pavee Point – Joseph Hester

3 Dec

            Racial discrimination has been an issue as long as modern civilization has been around. Racial minorities have almost always been the victims of this discrimination. Acts of discrimination can range from revocation of rights to being social outcasts. Relatively, there has been less discrimination in the world than in the past. With the introduction of the Bill of Human Rights and the new initiatives to increase awareness of such acts, there has been less discrimination in the world today. This problem gets sticky when certain groups are not recognized as races. When groups that consider themselves a race are not viewed as one, many of the protections that have come around in the past fifty years do not help these groups. Unfortunately, there are still some groups that are in this situation in modern times. One of these groups originates right in Ireland and they are called the travellers.

            In a recent mobile seminar to Pavee Point, we were introduced to the history and life of the Irish Travellers. Travelers are a group that considers themselves to be a separate ethnicity. They to this day hold on to traditions of their culture. Although many of the despite there name many Travellers, are have settled homes and are integrated into regular society. Despite their integration into normal society, the Travellers still face discrimination. One of the Travellers at Pavee Point told us a story of a teenage traveller who got hired for a job. She worked as a cashier for a clothing outlet. One day the manager caught wind that she was of traveler decent and demoted her to a spot on the sales floor because he didn’t trust her with the money.

            Travellers also face challenges within their own communities. The suicide rate amongst male travellers is ten times higher than the general population of Ireland. Literacy is also a problem. Even just one generation ago, most travellers did not receive a proper education, which means that many still could not read a newspaper today. Luckily with more and more Travellers settling, there has been an increase in the amount of them completing secondary school. However, third level education still remains a problem within the community.

            Pavee Point works to help work for rights for the Travellers. Legislation has been put in place in recent years that are aimed at forcibly integrating Travellers into society. Since Travellers are not recognized as a race in Ireland (but they are in the UK) such legislation does not fall under racial discrimination. Luckily the Travellers have organizations such as Pavee Point to fight for equality.  

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