THE PRESIDENT of Ireland has sent a message of support to Irish Travellers during Traveller Pride Week.
In an open letter to all those celebrating Traveller Pride Week, President Michael D Higgins sent his "best wishes to all those taking part", and thanked the Traveller community for their "continued contribution to the creation of a fairer and more inclusive Ireland".
The president also acknowledged the continued discrimination faced by Travellers both at home and further afield, stating that "despite the considerable progress made in recent years, it must remain a grave concern that Travellers in Ireland continue to face discrimination and exclusion on a daily basis."
He went on: "Indeed, recent European research has discovered that Irish Travellers face some of the worst discrimination in Europe.
"That is a greatly worrying and a salutary reminder of the many challenges that continue to face a community of fellow citizens who have so much to offer our society."
He paid tribute to the Travelling Community who this week will "celebrate the rich heritage and unique traditions in which you have such justifiable pride" while still"bravely combating the hurtful discrimination and rejection which is so often your experience".
He praised those who had worked together and "have already achieved so much", and recommended that society as a whole "can learn a great deal from your inspiring spirit of solidarity, a spirit that reminds us of the shared sense of humanity that must define any truly democratic nation."
"I wish you a most successful week, and thank you for your continued contribution to the creation of a fairer and more inclusive Ireland."
A 2020 report found that more than two-thirds of Irish Travellers have faced discrimination, with research compiled by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) reporting a whopping 68% of Traveller men and 62% of Traveller woman have experienced discrimination.
Traveller Pride Week seeks to celebrate the culture and heritage of Irish Travellers, with a number of events set to take place this week, a mix of online and virtual events all across the country.
Officially launching #TravellerPrideWeek today, Minister @rodericogorman said #StrongerTogether was an apt theme for a community that has shown strength, resilience and ingenuity, in recent months and over many years of working together to overcome the challenges they have faced. pic.twitter.com/ljGYBdJiUC
— Green Party Ireland (@greenparty_ie) September 20, 2021
Traveller Pride Week was officially launched yesterday by Minister for Integration, Roderic O'Gorman, who met virtually with high-profile Traveller activists Rose Marie Maughan, Mary Collins, Sharyn Ward, Jason Sherlock and Martin Mahon.
Writing on Twitter, Minister O'Gorman said he was "honoured to launch Traveller Pride Week 2021 today".
"Traveller Pride is an opportunity for Travellers to promote their much loved culture, achievements and talents at both local and national level and celebrate that culture with the whole of Irish society."
The Pride week will take place until 2 October.