Racial, Ethnic, and Homophobic Violence: Killing in the Name of Otherness

By Michel Prum; Bénédicte Deschamps et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Anti-Traveller racism in Ireland
Violence and incitement to hatred

Bryan Fanning

The sooner the shotguns are at the ready and these travelling people are
put out of our county the better. They are not our people, they aren’t
natives.1


INTRODUCTION

Hostility towards Travellers is frequently uncritically reported in the local and national press, yet has rarely been the subject of academic research. Media coverage generally relates to opposition by residents and politicians to the provision of accommodation for Travellers, to court cases against Travellers and to pejorative accounts of deviance amongst Travellers. Claims that Travellers are intrinsically violent have become central to a politics of ethnic exclusion in Ireland. This has been reflected in media accounts of Travellers.2 These have focused, in particular, upon accounts of feuds between Traveller families and unruly behaviour at weddings and funerals. It is arguably the case that the racialisation of Travellers as a violent out-group in Irish society has intensified in recent years, in response to the introduction of legislation against discrimination and social policies aimed at promoting the social inclusion of Travellers.3 There is a profound disjuncture between official policies promoting the integration of Travellers, which to some extent acknowledge Traveller ethnicity, and a trenchant opposition by many residents’ groups and local politicians to the very presence of Travellers in their communities. For example, in 2002, the Vintner’s Federation of Ireland marshalled accusations of Traveller violence to campaign for the exemption of Travellers from the Equal Status Act (2000).4 This Act specifically outlawed discrimination against Travellers in the provision of goods and services. As a result of this campaign, the state’s Equality Authority lost its powers to directly investigate allegations of discrimination against Travellers by owners of hotels and public houses.

The case study addressed in this chapter focuses on anti-Traveller racism in County Clare between the beginning of 2000 and the end of 2002. It develops

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