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Campaigners call for International Irish Traveller Day to be officially recognised

Campaigners from a steering committee of Irish Travellers have called for an International Irish Traveller Day to protect their way of life.

In July 2022, a steering committee of Irish Travellers launched a survey to get International Irish Traveller Day, an annual celebration of their cultural history, officially recognised. The survey closes in June 2023 and will end the consultation period. 

International Irish Traveller Day or Pavee Day will look to celebrate Irish Traveller culture and educate people on one of the UK’s oldest communities. A significant number of Irish migrated to the East End in the 1840s and 1850s and have played an important role in our area since.

Following a committee review of the survey in June, a specific day, symbol or flag will be chosen to represent Irish Travellers, based on the majority response.

After settling in the 19th century, Irish Travellers have had their way of life diminished and faced discrimination, reported the Guardian recently.

Michelle Mahoney, an Irish Traveller from East London, said: ‘I feel I have got no place in society. I feel like I don’t have a voice. No one ever does anything about Traveller racism.’

The Travellers Times reminded all Irish Travellers to get involved in the survey on March 1 2023, the six-year anniversary of Irish Traveller Ethnicity Day when the Irish government passed a law to establish Irish Travellers as a distinct ethnic group.

The steering committee is keen to build on this backing and said they intend to ask governments around the world to adopt the date chosen by Travellers.

Philomena Mongan, an Irish Traveller from London, said: ‘It is important for us as the younger generation to keep and protect our culture, beliefs and way of life, alive.

‘For years it has been difficult to unite as a community as our way of life has been slowly fading away,’ Mongan said.

Irish Travellers and other Gypsy communities have had their nomadic way of life severely hampered by urban development and new laws.

There is a significant national shortage of places for Gypsies and Travellers to legally and safely stop, said the non-profit group Friends, Families and Travellers.

The Police Act 2022, which came into effect on 28 June last year, meant people living on roadside camps may face prison time, a £2500 fine or have their homes taken from them.

Developments, including the extension of Crossrail in Bow and works for the 2012 Olypmics in Hackney, led to travellers being evicted from caravan sites. Social stigma has also been a problem and Travellers have faced pub bans.

An annual day of celebration, the steering committee said, would help inform people about their way of life, generate pride and tackle the ongoing marginalisation of Irish Travellers.

To complete the survey go to Surveymonkey.co.uk/r/9GLZ2FX

If you have any questions, contact Rose Marie Maughan at rosemarie@itmtrav.ie if in Ireland, or Josie O’Driscoll at josie.gateherts@gmail.com if based in the UK. Irish Travellers based in other countries can contact either. 

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