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National minorities in Ireland : Gypsies and Irish Travellers.

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Presentation on theme: "National minorities in Ireland : Gypsies and Irish Travellers."— Presentation transcript:

1 National minorities in Ireland : Gypsies and Irish Travellers

2 Gypsies Gypsies were thought to have left the Northern Indian sub-continent aobout 1000 years ago. Over the centuries they travelled westwards, often settling in countries where the host culture was more welcoming. Today they live on every continent. Gypsies are tought to have arrived in England during the reign of Henry VIII. People thought they had come grom Egypt, and so at first called them ‘Egyptians’. The name changed over the years to ‘Gyptians’ then ‘Gypsies’.


4 The Romany Language has its roots in Hindi and has been adaptet according to the host language. Many Gypsy children today are bi-lingual, speaking Anglo-Romany at home. Their culture has always been an oral (spoken) one, and the language has never been formally recorded so there is no standard spelling. Some Romany words have been absorbed into English, for example : ♦ ‘lolly’ ♦ ‘dosh’ can mean ‘money’ ♦ ‘mush’ can mean ‘man’ ♦ ‘pal’ can mean ‘brother’ ♦ ‘kushti’ can mean ‘good ’



7 Irish Travellers When Gypsies arrived un the UK, there were already nomads here. Until the 19 th Century, Irish Travellers moved around in bender tents and wagons and were commonly knows as Tinkers. The name Tinkers came from ‘tinceard’ which means ‘tinsmith’. This came from their ancient pre-Gaelic language called Shelta, which some Irish Travellers still use today alongside English. ‘Irish Travellers’ is a name society has given them, but their name for their people is Pavee.


9 Many do not consider themselves to be Irish. They consider themselves to be the indigenous population of the island of Ireland, much like the aborigines in Australia and the Native Americans in North America.

10 Irish Travellers are Ireland’s largest minority, who struggle to find a place in society while maintaining their distinct culture. Irish Travellers are the largest minority in Ireland. There are about 25,000 Irish Travellers in Ireland and 1,300 in Northen Ireland. They are a little understood nomadic community, who have many difficulties to overcome if they ate to survive as a culture and gain acceptance in Irish society. Among the challenges facing them are poverty and racism.

11 Irish Travellers are a distinct ethnic group which has existed for centuries. Often they are mistakenly considered part of the nomadic Romani, an ethnic group which originated in the region of India and is now widespread throughout Europe. The Irish Travellers are indigenous to Irelnad.The two cultures are not related. While both are nomadic, the Irish Travellers are Roman Catholic and speak a language that is theirs alone. They have their own culture, customs, traditions and language. They are noted for their musical and story telling abilities. In times past, they traveled by horse drawn wagon in caravans, making camp along the way. Tinsmithing, horse trading and peddling were the major sources of income in those days. Tinsmiths were so prevalent among Irish Travellers that the terms Tinker and Irish Travellers were used interchangeably. Today, Tinker is one of many derogatory terms for Irish Traveller.


13 Horses and wagons have given way to mobile homes pulled by motor wehicles. They continue their life on the road, but there are fewer places to stop and fewer places where their are welcome. Today, Irish Travellers mainly work in recycling. Changing needs of society and progress have eliminated the jobs that could support a culture on wheels. Irish Travellers are poor, undereducated, and on the receiving end of discrimination. Their life expectancy is lower than average while their infant mortality rate is higher than average.

14 As is the case with the Romani, the Irish Travellers are seen by many as a group of immoral, ignorant, criminals and con artist. People distrust their nomadic culture and their language, Shelta. Many think it’s a secret language specifically developed as a tool to help the Irish Travellers trick innocent people. However, it is an old language, which has evolved with time and circumstances. Once heavily infused with Irish Gaelic, it is now infused with English.

15 The Irish Government and many private organizations are attempting to eradicate the racism suffered by the Travellers and to address their problems. In the past thirty years, laws have been passed in an attempt to stop the racism and alleviate the problems of poverty as well as a lack of health care and educations. Results have been mixed. Early on, the government attempted to help the Irish Travellers by trying to assimilate them into Irish society. Eventually, the government realized that they didn’t want help at the cost of giving up their culture. Civil rights has become the focus. Anti-hate laws as well as laws prohibiting discrimination against Irish Travellers in employment and education have been passed over the course of the last several years. The Irish Travellers have organized to lobby for their rights. On a broader scale, they have joined Romani groups to call attention to the problems of all the nomadic cultures throughout Europe.

16 Stemming the tide of racism is a difficult task. Helping the Irish Travellers overcome poverty while maintaining their cultural identity will require dedication by the Irish Travellers, the governments involved and society. Progress is being made as awareness is heightened, but there is a long way to go before Irish Travellers are a productive and accepted part of Irish Society.


18 Some people have negative perceptions of how Gypsies and Travellers behave, and believe that they are criminal, anti-social and don’t pay tax. These perceptions are usually based on the behaviour of a small number they have observed, and inaccurate and sometimes racist reporting in the media. Negative media reporting reinforces stereotypes, and leads to anecdotal rather than factual discussion about Gypsies and Travellers. Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police, David Ainsworth, was quoted as saying on 19 October 2005 : “ It is important to remember that only a small minority of the Gypsy and Traveller population are criminals, the same as with the settled population.”

19 The minority who do cause disruption and nuisance set an inaccurate stereotype for all Gypsies and Travellers. All people in Kent should be dealt with based on their specific behaviour rather than as a result of their ethnic or lifestyle status. In other words, issues involving Gypsies and Travellers should be managed in the same way as they would be for any other member of society- fairly, proportionately and lawfully.

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