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This case is going to be interesting. If the accused is Irish, can he be accused of anti Irish racism?
Travellers are Irish, right?
Irish Travellers circa 1970
Man in court over 'anti-Traveller' Facebook page
A man has appeared in court in relation to the alleged publication of racist material on the social networking site, Facebook.
Patrick Kissane (27), pictured right, of Knockasarnett, Killarney, Co Kerry, is accused of actions likely to stir up hatred on December 1, 2009.
Judge James O'Connor adjourned the matter at Killarney District Court yesterday until July.
Inspector Martin McCarthy requested the case be adjourned to get the views of the Director for Public Prosecutions because of the unusual nature of the case.
It relates to the setting up of an anti-Traveller Facebook page called 'Promote the use of knacker babies as bait'.
The site is understood to have attracted 664 fans before it was removed by Facebook last July following a number of complaints. If the case goes ahead, it will mark the first time that anyone has been brought before the courts for publishing online racism.
Among those who filed the original complaints were members of Pavee Point, the Kerry Travellers' Development Group and the Waterford Travellers' Development Project.
Irish Travellers are a traditionally nomadic people of ethnic Irish origin, some of whom maintain a separate language and set of traditions. They live predominantly in Ireland, grate britain and the United States of America.
Travellers refer to themselves as Minceir or Pavees in their own language or in Irish as an Lucht Siúil, meaning literally "the walking people".
Travellers are often referred to by the terms "gypsies", "didicoy", "tinkers" or "knackers". These terms refer to services that were traditionally provided by them, tinkering (or tinsmithing), for example, being the mending of tin ware such as pots and pans and knackering being the acquisition of dead or old horses for slaughter.
Other derogatory terms such as "pikey" and "gypo" or "gippo" (derived from "Gypsy") are also heard. "Didicoy" is a Romani term for a child of mixed Romani and non-Romani parentage, as applied to the Travellers, it refers to the fact that they are not "Gypsy" by ethnicity but Irish by blood and lead a similar yet distinct lifestyle.
Distribution of Irish Travellers
The 2006 census in the Republic of Ireland reported the number of Irish Travellers as 22,369. A further 1,700 to 2,000 were estimated to live in Northern Ireland.
From the 2006 Irish census it was determined that 20,975 dwell in urban areas and 1,460 were living in rural areas. With an overall population of just 0.5% some areas were found to have a higher proportion, with Tuam, Galway Travellers constituting 7.71% of the population. There were found to be 9,301 Travellers in the 0-14 age range, comprising 41.5% and a further 3,406 of them were in the 15-24 age range, comprising 15.2%. Children of age range 0-17 comprised 48.7% of the Traveller population.
Following the findings of the All Ireland Traveller Health Study (estimates for 2008), the figure for the north of Ireland was revised to 3,905 and that for the Republic to 36,224.
Irish Travellers in the UK
Statistics for Irish Travellers in the UK do not exist, although in 2011, for the first time, the census will categorise Roma and Irish Travellers as distinct ethnic groups. Recent estimates of Travellers living in grate britain range between 15,000 and 30,000.
Irish Travellers in The United States
In the United States, the largest and most affluent population of Irish Travellers live in Murphy Village, outside of the town of North Augusta, South Carolina. It is a community of some 1,500 Irish Travellers. Other communities exist near Memphis, Tennessee, while smaller enclaves can be found across Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
One of the most notorious who claim to be a Irish Traveler was Madelyne Gorman Toogood. Who can forget this vicious cowardly woman.
Irish Travellers Origins
The historical origins of Travellers as a group has been a subject of academic and popular debate. It was once widely believed that Travellers were descended from landowners or labourers who were made homeless by Oliver Cromwell's military campaign in Ireland and in the 1840s famine, however, their origins may be more complex. This is almost impossible to thoroughly ascertain as throughout their history Travellers have left no written records of their own.
Others claim there is evidence of nomadic groups in Ireland in the 5th century, and by the 12th century the name Tynkler and Tynker emerged in reference to a group of nomads who maintained a separate identity, social organization, and dialect. Even though all families claim ancient origins, not all families of the Travellers date back to the same point in time, some families adopted Traveller customs centuries ago, while others did so more recently.
Irish Travellers Language
Irish Travellers speak Shelta, and there are two dialects of this language, Gammon (or Gamin) and Cant. It has been dated back to the eighteenth century, but may be older than that.
Irish Travellers Religion
Travellers have a distinctive approach to religion, in the vast majority Roman Catholics, particular attention is paid to issues of healing.
Irish Travellers Education
Traveller children often grow up outside of normal educational systems.
Irish Travellers Health
The health of Irish Travellers is significantly poorer than that of the general population in Ireland. This is evidenced in a 2007 report published in Ireland, which states that over half of Travellers do not live past the age of 39 years. Another government report of 1987 found:
From birth to old age, they have high mortality rates, particularly from accidents, metabolic and congenital problems, but also from other major causes of death. Female Travellers have especially high mortality compared to settled women.
In 2007, the Department of Health and Children in the Republic of Ireland, in conjunction with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in the north of Ireland, commissioned the University College Dublin's School of Public Health and Population Science to conduct a major cross-border study of Travellers' welfare. The study, including a detailed census of Traveller population and an examination of their health status, is expected to take up to three years to complete.
The birth rate of Irish Travellers has decreased since the 1990s, but they still have one of the highest birth rates in Europe. The birth rate for the Traveller community for the year 2005 was 33.32 per 1,000, possibly the highest birth rate recorded for any community in Europe. By comparison, the Irish national average was 15.0 in 2007.
On average there are ten times more driving fatalities within the Traveller community. At 22%, this represents the most common cause of death among Traveller males. Roughly ten times more infants die under the age of two, while a third of Travellers die before the age of 25. In addition, 80% of Travellers die before the age of 65. Some 10% of Traveller children die before their second birthday, compared to just 1% of the general population. In Ireland, 2.6% of all deaths in the total population were for people aged under 25, versus 32% for the Travellers.
Irish Travellers Population genetics
Genetic studies by Miriam Murphy, David Croke, and other researchers identified certain genetic diseases such as galactosemia that are more common in the Irish Traveller population, involving identifiable allelic mutations that are rarer among the rest of the community.
Two main hypotheses have arisen, speculating whether:
this resulted from marriages made largely within and among the Traveller community, or
suggesting descent from either an original Irish carrier long ago with ancestors unrelated to the rest of the Irish population.
They concluded that: The fact that Q188R is the sole mutant allele among the Travellers as compared to the non-Traveller group may be the result of a founder effect in the isolation of a small group of the Irish population from their peers as founders of the Traveller sub-population. This would favour the second, endogenous, hypothesis of Traveller origins.
More specifically, they found that Q188R was found in 100% of Traveller samples, and in 89% of other Irish samples, indicating that the Traveller group was typical of the larger Irish indigenous population.
Irish Travellers Social conflict and controversies
Travellers are breeders of dogs such as greyhounds or lurchers and have a long-standing interest in horse trading. The main fairs associated with them are held annually at Ballinasloe (Ireland) and Appleby (England). They are often involved in recycling scrap metals, e.g. 60% of the raw material for Irish Steel is sourced from scrap metal, approximately 50% (75,000 metric tonnes) collected and segregated by the community at a value of over £1.5 million. Such percentages for more valuable non-ferrous metals may be significantly greater.
Irish Travellers Social identity
Irish Travellers are recognised in British law as an ethnic group. Ireland, however, does not recognise them as an ethnic group, rather, their legal status is that of a "social group". An ethnic group is defined as one whose members identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry. Ethnic identity is also marked by the recognition from others of a group's distinctiveness and by common cultural, linguistic, religious, behavioural or biological traits.
The European Parliament Committee of Enquiry on Racism and Xenophobia found them to be among the most discriminated-against ethnic groups in Ireland and yet their status remains insecure in the absence of widespread legal endorsement. Travellers are usually viewed in a negative light, as insular, anti-social, drop-outs, misfits, heavily involved in criminal and mendicant behavior, and notorious for settling illegally on land not owned by them.
In the north of Ireland, such prejudices can take on sectarian and political, rather than class-based overtones as the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and nationalist Travellers are seen by some in the Unionist/Loyalist community as an "invasion from the south of Ireland" and "milking the Northern Irish economy". In the UK as recently as 1999, one Tory politician was reported suggesting they should be "starved out of town". Some Travellers have claimed to have experienced difficulties accessing social services.
Irish Travellers Anti-social behaviour
The Commission on Itinerancy, appointed in Ireland in 1960 under Charles Haughey, found that "public brawling fuelled by excessive drinking further added to settled people's fear of Travellers ... feuding was felt to be the result of a dearth of pastimes and illiteracy, historically comparable to features of rural Irish life before the Famine."
Female travellers are just as likely to take part in brawling, along with other anti-social activities such as begging and intimidation, often find themselves victims within their own communities as well as in society at large. In the United States, the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs issued a press release on March 14, 2007 titled "Irish Travelers Perpetuate a Tradition of Fraud".
 Land disputes
Further information: Halting site
A complaint against Travellers in the United Kingdom is that of unauthorised Traveller sites being established on privately owned land or on council-owned land not designated for that purpose. Under the government's "Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant", designated sites for Travellers' use are provided by the council, and funds are made available to local authorities for the construction of new sites and maintenance and extension of existing sites.
However, Travellers also frequently make use of other, non-authorised sites, including public "common land" and private plots such as large fields and other privately owned land. The Travellers claim that there is an under-provision of authorised sites — the Gypsy Council estimates an under-provision amounts to insufficient sites for 3,500 people
The struggle for equal rights for these transient people led to the passing of the Caravan Sites Act 1968 that for some time safeguarded their rights, lifestyle and culture in the UK. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, however, repealed part II of the 1968 act, removing the duty on local authorities in the UK to provide sites for Travellers and giving them the power to close down existing sites. In the north of Ireland, opposition to Travellers' sites has been led by the Democratic Unionist Party.
List of Irish Travellers
Johnny Doran was one of the most influential uilleann pipers in the history of Irish music, active during the first half of the 20th century.
John O'Donnell, boxer
Tyson Fury, boxer
Bartley Gorman was the "king" of the gypsies and undefeated bareknuckle boxing champion until his death in 2002.
Francie Barrett has been a professional boxer since August 2000, and now fights at light welterweight, out of Wembley, London.
Paddy Keenan, piper, is a foundational member of the Bothy Band in the 1970s and a key figure in the transition of Irish traditional music into the world of Celtic-denominated music. He comes from a family of Traveller musicians and is perpetually on tour across much of the United States and Europe.
John Reilly was a traditional Irish singer and source of songs. On Planxty's 2004 music album Live at Vicar Street, Christy Moore mentions hearing Reilly sing for the first time and calls it a "life changing" experience, going on to dedicate the song "As I Roved Out" to his memory.
Brendon Fearon, career criminal in Nottinghamshire and major player in the attempted robbery of Tony Martin's farmhouse which left Fearon's partner, 16 year old Fred Barass, also a Traveller, dead, and Fearon wounded, after the homeowner shot the intruders.
Margaret Barry was a Traveller from Cork who became a well-known name on the London folk scene in the 1950s, with her distinctive singing style and idiosyncratic banjo accompaniment.
Pecker Dunne is a well known Traveller and singer from County Wexford, Ireland.
Michael Gomez, a professional boxer based in Manchester, England, was born to an Irish Traveller family in County Longford.
Wayne Dundon, gang leader and convicted criminal.
Shayne Ward, singer and former winner of X Factor, whose parents are Irish travellers who settled in England.
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