Hundreds of Travellers outside Dáil for antiracism protest

first_imgMore: Martin ‘very annoyed’ by Fianna Fáil councillor’s call to ‘segregate’ Travellers > UP TO 300 people have gathered outside the Dáil this afternoon to protest against the rise of anti-Traveller racism among public representatives.A number of TDs have joined the protesters at Leinster House, including Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins and Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams, Dessie Ellis and Pádraig MacLochlainn.The Irish Traveller Movement said it convened the rally in response to the rise in racism among politicians and judges which culminated in the burning of a house allocated to a Traveller family in Ballyshannon, county Donegal last month.Leaders of the Traveller community have spoken to the crowd, expressing concern about the impact of recent events on their lives and the lack of political action in taking public representatives to task on what they called “inflammatory incitement”.The 40 groups presented letters to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the leaders of each political party, stating that “to take no action against party members who had made racist remarks towards Travellers undermines our status and standing in Irish society”.Recent incidents involving two judges and a Fianna Fáil councillor “have caused deep upset to the Traveller family involved” and Travellers nationwide see them as “amplified examples of the hatred they experience on a daily basis”.In September and December last year, District Court Judge Seamus Hughes compared Travellers to “Neanderthal men abiding by the laws of the jungle” and associated a woman guilty of assault causing harm to the actions of a “tinker”.In January of this year, Donegal Councillor Sean McEniff told a local radio programme that Travellers should be “housed away from settle communities” before repeating the idea of “segregation” on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland show. Later the same month, Judge Geoffrey Browne used the word “knacker” when sentencing two members of the community for burglary in Tuam, county Galway.“When hatred is instigated by the beacons of public opinion and leadership: elected public representatives and the judiciary, it sends a clear message to Irish society that hatred, prejudice and racism directed toward Travellers is acceptable and in some instances to be applauded,” said Brigid Quilligan, the director of the Irish Traveller Movement.She told those attending the protest that anti-Traveller racism is at an all-time high.Recent events have caused a significant upsurge of incitement to hatred against us in social media and on the Internet generally.“In fact, just over a month ago the Irish Traveller Movement website was violently hacked by right wing extremists, necessitating an investigation by the Gardai. Everywhere Travellers turn we experience racism, that racism affects the totality of our lives –  now we live in fear of being attacked and burnt out of our homes while our political leadership is silent.”The movement has called for a public apology from McEniff but it remains outstanding, despite 40 complaints to the county council’s Racist and Sectarian Incident Reporting Scheme and a subsequent meeting with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.The group has also asked Justice Browne to retract his statement and apologise, urging Minister Shatter to censure the judge for his comments.Earlier: Over 40 Traveller groups to protest at the Dáil against racismRead: Traveller group expresses ‘deep concern’ over judge comments >last_img

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