It's a Cultural Thing. Or is it?
"John says, ‘Has anyone here ever been discriminated against?’ The room went quiet for a minute. We all looked at each other. We couldn’t read the board and even if we could have, we still didn’t understand what he was saying. One of the young fellas said, ‘I was never locked up before in my life’, and another young fella said, ‘I was only getting a lift in the car, I didn’t know it was robbed’. Because John knew where we came from, he said, ‘Oh wait, sorry. I’ll put that in a different way. Has anyone here ever been put out of a shop, restaurant, pub or not been left on a bus?’ All the hands went up, and all the stories came flooding out."
Storytelling has a long tradition dating back to several generations in Michael Collins’ family, dating back to several generations. This tradition vision appears in his semi-autobiographical play, It’s a cultural thing. Or is it? The storyteller’s own memories mingle with tales that he has heard from other peoples, which he recounts with his own personal touch. The play premiered in 2005 at the Dublin Fringe Festival where it received a five-star review.
In Ireland, Travellers were recognised only in 2017 as an ethnic minority.
In the 1960s, Ttravellers from all over the country began to move to Dublin. It happened on the one hand as the appearance of plastic, that has displaced tin tools, which Travellers used to produce and sell during moving from one town to another the other one. On the other hand they were able to receive social care in case they had a permanent address. Earlier they weren’t eligible for unemployment benefits at all. In this period the tTravellers first began living in larger groups during this period.
Traveller kids have been automatically segregated in public schools for many decades. In the segregated classes the children hardly learned anything, and most of them finished school as illiterates. In the 1980s, new laws regulated social benefits for Ttravellers. All tTravellers had to apply for unemployment benefits on the same day, at the same time, on Thursdays at 11:30. All Travellers had to go to the same hospital. After a long struggle for equal lobbying groups, the Equal Opportunities Act was finally passed in Ireland in 2000. The law prohibits discrimination against nine different groups, including Travellers. It was a real breakthrough, which and meant that Travellers had to be served in shops, pubs and everywhere they had been expelled from before. However, this has not gone so easily, and to this day, Travellers are often sent out from pubs, hotels or shops. Now, Hhowever, now it is possible to go to court in such cases, unlike not like before.
The population of the Irish Traveller community in a 2016 census is estimated at 30,000 and 40,000 by the Travellers themselves at 40,000. Many Irish Ttravellers are involved in dog breeding and horse trade, but and many also earn their bread from the recovery of scrap metal. In Ireland, the already high suicide rate is particularly high among Ttravellers: five times higher than that of the that of settled people. The rate of child mortality is three times higher, the rate of the unemployed is 95%, and 85% of adults are illiterate. 45% of the Traveller population is under 16 years old. Life expectancy is 55 years.
The nomadic lifestyle makes it difficult for Travellers in many areas of life, be it learning, health care, church communities, banking or even voting. In both Britain and Ireland, the legal status of the Ttraveller minority has been unresolved for a long time., and dDespite international regulations, up until recently, discrimination against Ttravellers on ethnic grounds was not sanctioned by law. The nomadic lifestyle is still part of the Traveller culture, however, during the ’60s and ’70s, states sought to resettle and integrate Traveller communities. As a result, the number of truly migrating communities has dropped significantly. In Ireland, from then on, Travellers were also eligible for benefits, but could only receive them if they had a registered address, which was a huge motivation for a community that had run out of previous traditional jobs and thus lost income. Travellers moved to the periphery of the big citiesy, to huge camps, which were was significantly different from their previous way of life and had many difficulties., even at the level of the most common activities. However, state-established campgrounds often fail to meet the expectations of communities: hygiene conditions and infrastructure are inadequate.
In the early 20th century, it became common to create special, segregated schools for Traveller children. A change in the situation of communities began in the 1970s, when the church began to increasingly support Traveller children’s access to education, but the situation is still unbalanced. Educating Travellers is problematic in several ways. On the one hand, traditional schools are not prepared to accommodate and teach students, who sometimes go to school only on a temporary basis. On the other hand, the quality of education and time spent in school is often are marked by the often discriminatory attitudes of teachers and fellow students. Traveller children are often hurt and ridiculed by their peers at school. Teachers often have much lower expectations of them, too. In many places where there is a Traveller camp nearby, near the school, institutions the schools are segregated as non-Traveller parents gradually take their children to other schools.
‘In Collins's first play, It's a Cultural Thing. . . or is it? (A Traveller in Progress), in 2005, he set out to sketch a modern history of Irish Travellers, as seen through the eyes of a young boy moving with his family from a traditional itinerant life in the Midlands to a halting site in Finglas.’Independent
‘According to the old proverb, till the tiger won’t write his own story he will always be hunted - reminds us Collins … The tiger started to write his story’Népszava
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