On the 1st of March 2017, the Irish state conferred official recognition on Travellers as an ethnic group, after momentous effort by Traveller organisations nationwide, and pressure from a range of international human rights organisations. This included the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, the Ombudsman for Children, various UN committees and the European Commission, who had threatened legal proceedings against Ireland for how Travellers are treated. This recognition has been a long struggle and is a significant opportunity and success for Travellers in Ireland. However, it is largely symbolic in acknowledging and valuing the uniqueness of Traveller culture and identity, and does not create any new rights. It means naming Travellers as a protected group in Irish equality legislation as well as inclusion in state anti-discrimination and inter-cultural initiatives. This is significant for Offaly Traveller Movement in the context of our work and experiences of the societal disregard of our people. We hope that recognition of our ethnicity is merely the beginning of things to come, and OTM will continue to endeavour to work towards full equality, and highlight the need for legislative and political change.
IT was during Covid that the Rev William Hayes knocked on the door of the Offaly Traveller Movement and asked if they needed anything. That one kind deed was not