One in five Irish people would deny citizenship to a member of the Travelling Community, a frightening new study has found.
The study’s author, Fr Michael Mac Greil SJ., described the report’s findings as “frightening” and said that the results were evidence of “a growing polarisation” in Irish altitudes towards members of the travelling community.
The troubling new findings mark an increase of 10 percent over the last twenty years of the numbers of people who would consider taking such a step justified. The survey’s results were announced at the launch of Emancipation of the Travelling People which monitors changes in public attitude towards Travellers over the past 35 years.
Another survey - conducted in 2007-2008 fuond that three-quarters of people would be reluctant to buy a house next door to a Traveller. That survey was conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute.
The survey results were indicative of a “negative mood” in Irish society towards having Travellers in the immediate area, said Fr Mac Greil. A change in the main reason for this answer moved from “not socially acceptable” in the 1988 survey to “way of life” in the 2008 survey.
Fr Mac Greil said there needed to be a pluralist approach by the State as the policy of “settling” Travellers had not succeeded.
The two positive findings from the report were that firstly three-quarters of people felt that Travellers were competent to sit on a jury, while secondly 60 percent would be willing to employ a traveller.
Those working unskilled jobs and from poor backgrounds were most sympathetic to the plight of the travellers, which the author said pointed towards a “solidarity” factor, while those from high education backgrounds and from upper social classes were least tolerant and sympathetic towards the group, which the author also called “disappointing”.
Minister for Equality Pat Carey has previously said that conflict resolution in the Traveller community would be his priority during his term as Minister.