A very interesting equality analysis based on Census 2006 has emerged recently, entitled Multiple Disadvantage in Ireland.
The pdf. can be viewed on the ESRI website
The aim of the report was to examine the risk of disadvantage associated with gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community. However, it might be better to restrict ourselves to the issue of the traveller community, as the findings made in relation to that community were particularly stark.
Here are some basic figures that emerged or were cited from other reports.
- Travellers have a lower life expectancy, with the result that only 9 per cent of the Traveller population is over age 50, compared with 28 per cent of white Irish adults.
- Over half of the Traveller population is under age 20 (53 per cent), compared with 28 per cent of the other white Irish population.
- Over eight out of ten Irish Travellers in the 25–44 age group and almost the same number in the 45–64 age group have not completed second- level education.
- 61 per cent of Travellers aged 25 to 44 years and 49 per cent of those aged 45 to 64 years are in the labour market, when we control for their level of education and other factors Travellers are less likely than other white Irish adults to be in the labour market.
- Figures from Census 2006 show that less than 1 per cent of Travellers aged 15 years or over have a third-level qualification
- only a further 4 per cent have completed upper secondary level and 16 per cent have lower secondary qualifications (Nolan and Maître, 2008).
Graphical depiction of the age distribution:
Does anybody else find these statistics frighteningly damning of Irish society and our ability to address travellers' disadvantage?
It seems to me that we are allowing an educational and a social famine to persist amongst a minority group which a large body of the Irish people feel detached from. I would be curious to explore what people think of these statistics, and why we think this is not more of a mainstream political issue?
has anyone ever gone out and done a big study involving actually asking travellers why they think they are at the disadvantage and how they think they could be assisted in reducing the disadvantage?
The survey says 61% of travellers of a certain age group are in the labour market.
I have met many hundreds of travellers in the West of Ireland. A very high percentage collect dole, or claim that they are unable to work due to disability. No way ar 61% in the labour market.
If many settled people have a poor opinion of travellers, that is the fault of the travellers.
I find these statistics frighteningly damning of Traveler society and their ability to address these disadvantages.
Travelers are a very insular protective and defensive group, who see any sort of change as a threat to their traditional way of life. The problem with that is that a lot of their traditional way of life is terrible, leading to statistics like those you put forward.
The rest of society can do what they can, and have been doing what they can. But significant change can only come from within the Traveler community themselves, and I see little chance of that happening in the near future.
Their shorter life expectancy can be attributed to a few things.
The fact that they live in squalor, at their own fault might I add.
Congenital birth defects due to inbreeding.
Many of these disadvantages that they find themselves at are caused by their own actions or behaviour.
It's not a mainstream concern because travellers are not part of mainstream society, and therefore most people don't care. Some shocking stats there, though.
Well to address some of the points:
- I imagine living conditions may play a part here. Ireland's damp, cold climate does not really lend itself well to living in a mobile home, possibly without any central heating, poor insulation, lack of running water supply or waste water facilities etc.
- Again, I imagine the previous point plays a part here. It is also a possibility travellers marry and have families at a younger age which skews the figures further.
- In fairness, it's not easy to settle into full time education if you move around frequently. Even if you do last a full school year in one go I'd imagine it's still difficult completing a potential five years in five different schools, different cirriculum choices, different paces, different topics covered etc.
- Again, workwise, many employers require you to have a fixed abode and also a bank account and the banks in turn require you to have a permanent address.
I'd be interested to hear what you think Irish society should do to aid in making travellers more included?
How accommodating should society be before we draw a line and say we can only do so much, the rest is up to you as to how included you want to be in society?
Personally, I find them frighteningly damning of travellers' inability to recognise the harm their culture and way of life causes to them and their families.
IMO, it's not a "mainstream" concern because the disadvantages travellers experience are justifiably considered mostly self-inflicted.
Look, for example at the recent riot at a children's confirmation ceremony in Ballinrobe, in which the entire community, settled and travellers, were caught up, with traveller men running around the church brandishing slash hooks and hurleys. No doubt some sociologist will tell us this is a valid expression of traveller culture.
Travellers don't like to go to school or work, and love having babies.
Wheres the shock?
Before we get all weak at the knees and gooey-eyed over these statistics, has any stats compiler taken the time to listen to or watch what travellers claim as their "heritage" their "custom" and their "culture"?
Issues relating to their shortened lives, poor health records and educational achievements, and apparent lack of attainment in the open labour market include, by their own open admissions on the record, the following:
- Inter-marrying and the frequent occurance of genetic disorders like Hurler's syndrome and the abandoning of terminally ill infants and children in hospitals. I have witnessed this myself at first hand, visiting abandoned traveller infants in hospital.
- The refusal of travellers to marry outside their own families, reducing the diversity of the genetic pool the community has to draw from
- Their voluntary nomadic lifestyle that predicates against their availability for "regular" work or jobs, apparently "forcing" them to draw the dole
- Their nomadic nature and life-style means that schooling for their children is patchy at best. As I have suggested on numerous other occassions, the issue is not to try and insist that the settled community change to accommodate their life-style choices, they could train and employ teachers from their own community who could travel with them and improve educational achievemrnts
- By and large, traveller men stick with their own trades and professions which include horse-breeding, training and selling, gambling on horses and fist-fights, dealing in scrap metal, tarmac laying, roofing, working as tree-surgeons, etc. Traveller boys leave school early, at ten or twelve years of age often without learning to read or write. This is a choice that parents have made for their children, generation after generation
- Traveller girls, by custom and practice, tradition and culture marry young (16-ish) and their role within the family unit is as home-maker exclusively. This, as well other matters listed above, is not an imposition of the settled community on travellers, quite the opposite, we are footing the bills to keep them in a manner to which they have become accustomed, and little thanks or acknowledgement we get for it.
- With very large families imposed on women, and risky behaviour indulged in by the men (high alcohol consumption, fist-fighting for money, horse-racing on public roads, etc, etc, shortened lives are the rule rather than the exception, but again these issues are choices dictated by custom and culture and not imposed from outside.
I'm in broad agreement with previous posters
Why are the statistics damning to Irish society and "our" ability to address disadvantages? Why is it us and them? Why is this question not put to all people or even specifically to travellers?
It is not a mainstream political issue because every Government in last few decades have bent over backwards providing money, housing, social welfare, condoning law breaking and so many other benefits to travellers.
County councils bend over backwards to help travellers. They do their best to house them. It was on the radio yesterday that it costs way more to house travellers because they want bays built beside the house so they can park their caravans. Also they wont move unless the extended family are given houses beside them. For heavens sake cant they visit their relations like the rest of us. Im in a hose because i scrimped and saved since i was 20 to try and afford it. Noone gave me anything so i think its a bit much to say that they are so hard done by TBH.
Just to respond to this point: as this data is extracted from census returns, the traveller pool is assumed from the question "What is your ethnic or cultural background?". Obviously, not all travellers are nomads. In fact, the report specifically says:
I don't think it's just a matter of inclusion, and quite frankly I don't know enough about sociology and ethnic cohesion to answer how best the question might be solved.
Nevertheless, I would suggest one answer might be found in how Irish people make decisions. Most of our decisions are made for us according to the classes we belong to. This intra-class social cohesion suggests that you have to really want not to send your kids to school if you are middle class and settled. You probably have to really suck at being a middle class parent to rear children that will display the same characteristics as observed in travellers.
On the other hand, travellers have to really want to go against the grain and send their kids to school, they have to expend a lot more energy making decisions which, for the rest of us, are already a given.
That's perhaps because society has different expectations of the middle classes, and different safety nets exist within middle class, settled families which may be less apparent amongst travellers with low expectations or who have themselves been discouraged from behaving like the middle classes.
So I think a certain degree of greater encouragement must be applied to travellers: increase learning resources, improve their environment, equip them with expectations of achievement, see to it that the support structures are in place which don't necessitate traveller parents to always have to struggle to constantly make the right decision.
And perhaps encouragement is not enough. I also wonder, looking at those statistics, whether it is not time to firmly push traveller parents into taking more responsible decisions for their children too.
Saw this on the blood of the travellers show that was on TV recently.
"The final solution to the itinerary problem will be assimilation"
In 1963, when Charles Haughey’s Commission on Itinerancy issued its findings they began with these chilling first three words.
Total assimilation, intergration and disperal into the settled commity is the answer to these issues, unless some one can point out how their lifestyle fits in with a developed modern econmoy and social welfare state.