thumbnail of report cover for 'Room to Roam, England's Irish Travellers'

Room to Roam: England’s Irish Travellers by Action Group for Irish Youth

Publication type: Report

Author: Other

Themes: Accommodation, Criminal Justice, Education, Health and Social Care

Irish Travellers are an indigenous minority in Ireland, north and south, who have a long history both of emigration to Britain, and of moving between Britain and Ireland. The research project Room to Roam: England’s Irish Travellers, undertaken over a period of three years, investigated the condition of the Irish Traveller community in England. It was designed to develop new information and research about the experiences of Irish Travellers in England in their relationships with health, welfare, criminal justice and educational agencies. It builds on the small body of research available which has already indicated the social exclusion of Irish Travellers from British society. Many of the issues and problems facing Irish Travellers in Britain resonate with the experiences of Gypsies. However, it is important to recognise that Irish Travellers are a distinct ethnic group with their own history, culture and social mores.The principle findings from the research included:

1. There is a general lack of recognition of the specificity of the position, culture and experiences of Irish Travellers. This lack of recognition inhibits the ability of statutory and non-statutory agencies to develop appropriate support and outreach for Irish Travellers.

2. The high levels of prejudice and discrimination experienced by Irish Travellers has led, in some instances, to strategies of avoidance of disclosure and/or discussion of ethnic and cultural backgrounds by Irish Travellers.

3. Accommodation is the single most pressing issue facing Travellers. The lack of appropriate accommodation strategies for Irish Travellers has marginalised and criminalised them.

4. Many Irish Travellers live in insecure and unhealthy conditions. The health consequences of the stresses of frequent moves, lack of appropriate halting sites have not been appropriately measured or monitored, but there is evidence, including from this research, to suggest that health of Irish Travellers, adult and children has suffered as a consequence.

5. Irish Travellers in the school system are often negatively stereotyped as inattentive and slow learners, that they experience racist bullying because of their ethnic background and are often blamed when they retaliate.

6. Evidence, including from police officers themselves, of police officers actively using racist attitudes towards Irish Travellers to inform policing decisions. This includes police forces ordinarily treating familial gatherings and events such as funerals and weddings as public order threats rather than a response to actual events or incidents.

Copies of the full report and the Summary of Research and Selected Recommendations are available free of charge from: Action Group for Irish Youth 356 Holloway Road London N7 6PATelephone: 0207 700 8137

Email:[email protected]

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