Introduction- Who are travellers.
Travellers are a minority ethnic group with a nomadic tradition. They identify themselves as a distinct community and are seen by others as such.
Traveller ethnicity has been contested by the majority of the settled community. It has been a focus for struggle by travellers and for the travelling community and organisations. Travellers have been defined as deviant or misfits. This definition perceives travellers as failed settled people in need of rehabilitation and assimilation. It denies travellers their history, language and their cultural contribution. Travellers have been defined as a sub-culture of poverty.
However this definition incorrectly suggests that travellers are economically homogeneous and ignores the fact that the wealthiest travellers tend to be more nomadic and with the least interest in integration.
Racism involves discrimination against groups on the basis of physical or cultural difference. Racism at the institutional level is most visible in the outcomes of policy and provision for minority ethnic groups, where these outcomes are considerably worse than those of the dominant group.
The outcomes for travellers provide very graphic evidence of institutional racism. This can especially be seen when looking at areas such as accommodation and education which will be discussed further on.
It should be noted that up-to-date data on travellers are not available. Data gathering systems do not include a focus on travellers. The last census did have a “Traveller” question; however it was for the enumerator to fill in rather than the census recipients. This resulted in a significant under counting of travellers. The data that was available indicated a significant disadvantage experienced by the traveller community in comparison with the settled community. The outcomes do evidence institutional racism as a core issue.
The ideas and analysis that have informed policy making are neatly...