Is it time to recognise travellers as a race?

By Jamie Concanon

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The debate over whether or not travellers should be recognised as an ethnic group has moved online following the appearance of Irish actor John Connors on the Late Late Show.

“My world has shaped me in such a way that I have the ability look past stereotypes, question popular opinion, think for myself and have empathy for people who have it hard or are experiencing injustice,” Connors told social media of his experience as a traveller.

The former Love/Hate star appeared on the Late Late Show this weekend promoting his new documentary entitled ‘I Am Traveller’, which will air on RTE next Thursday.

An online petition was recently launched hoping to gather signatories willing to provide travellers with ethnic status. The benefits of travellers being defined as their own ethnic race would include official recognition of Traveller culture, as well as improved political representation.

Amnesty International have vouched their support for the campaign, saying that further recognition for travellers as an individual ethnic group is essential to the survival of their culture.

“Amnesty International fully endorses this petition and we urge our members and supporters to join the campaign,” Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland said.

At the time of writing, the petition has gathered a total of 1,215 of the target of 5,000 signatures.

While it seems there is plenty of support from large organisations such as Amnesty International, public opinion on the matter remains divisive.

John Connors made reference to the “keyboard warriors” who use what he defines as racism to argue against him, and said he uses them as inspiration to continue speaking on behalf of Irish travellers.

Funny stupid racists. Giving out about me using the “N” on the Late Late. Hello? I was pointing out the similarity’s of…

Posted by John Connors on Sunday, 20 March 2016

“John called it what it is; racism. From what I’ve seen, a lot of people would be of the opinion that he expressed what is happening to travellers in the real world. No traveller is safe from it,” a spokesperson for Irish Travellers Movement told Breaking News Now.

 @jamie_concanon

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