The Donegal Travellers Project is calling for an end to remarks regarding the Traveller community which have arisen during Peter Casey’s presidential campaign.
The local advocacy group says ‘prejudiced’ comments aired during the recent presidential race have been hurtful and damaging to the community.
In a statement today, they hit out at Peter Casey’s claims that Travellers should not be recognised as an ethnic minority.
A spokesperson for the Donegal Travellers Project said: “Peter Casey made prejudiced comments and significant ill-informed generalisations about Travellers. Yes, his vote went up. Yes, Travellers feel really hurt and upset by the statements.
“This was headline grabbing statements in a dull presidential campaign.
“It increased his vote yes, what we are left with is the hegemonies in society where you can say whatever you want about minority groups for personal gain.”
The organisation said Travellers in Donegal are working to change their lives daily. Their goal, they said, is for an inclusive society.
“We need a Donegal where our children and young people are proud to stay because we care not for a place of division, exclusion prejudice and isolation but a place of inclusion, equality and happiness,” a spokesperson said.
Hugh Friel, Men’s Health and Development Worker and Chair of the Social Inclusion linkage group in Donegal, is calling for politicians, candidates in elections and others to stop using prejudiced comments about his community to attract media attention and votes.
Friel said: “We are human beings who hurt like others and racism damages you for your whole life. Our children don’t need the media coverage of awful comments about our community so that they are made to feel that they are inferior or lesser than settled people.”
“There is complacency in the public discourse that we are immune to nasty populism and racism,” Friel added.
Meanwhile, Peter Casey says he will take a DNA test to find out if he has any connections to the Travelling community.
He states that he has no animosity towards Travellers and never set out to victimise anyone.
The Donegal-based businessman is currently in India after his presidential election campaign, but says he is planning to investigate his own ethnic background on his return to Ireland.Tags: