The Irish paradox

Writing it and doing all your research, because there’s a lot of research in it…what did you learn? What was the biggest learning, or was it stuff you just had confirmed for you, or were there insights that made you go “wow, I’ve learned that now, that’s a new thing”?

I suppose there was a lot of things I was hoping to learn and I was pleased to learn that we are actually very kind. ‘Cause I was hoping we were very kind; and we are. I think probably the most disturbing thing actually is going back to racism again because it did mention most ethnic groups, and Muslims. But Travellers…there’s a fella, a sociologist called Michael MacGreil, who wrote a book in the ‘70s called ‘Prejudice & Tolerance in Ireland’, and that’s been his career – studying into that on an on-going basis. And in his studies, a quarter of Irish people, the settled community, would deny citizenship to Travellers. It’s as profound as that. If you think about it, most people in the settled community don’t want a Traveller living anywhere near them, they don’t want to work with one, they wouldn’t want their kids to marry one. Well, what’s the difference between any of that and apartheid, say? It’s essentially an apartheid state for them. Now, that’s not to say the Traveller community doesn’t have a massive problem with criminality and not getting how to interact with the settled community…. But, they are a community in crisis, I think. I think modernity was a complete disaster for them and they don’t really know how to deal with it. And no-one’s really helped them, and there’s been virtually no attempt made to understand them or indeed for them to understand us. That conversation hasn’t happened.

And do you think that’s something that you might campaign about on your programme or in other ways? Is it something that you kind of got interested in since doing that research?

It is. We’ve done one or two things on it before. Again, though, it’s one of those things that you have to cut your cloth to a degree because…. …. We’ve had Michael Collins on, the Travellers rights spokesman, and, of course, every time he comes on, the abuse is unbelievable. Yeah, so, it’s like you almost have to find a way to present this to people to say “well, this is actually good for you, and it’s good for your communities if we have this conversation”


An excerpt from an interview by Roisin Ingle with broadcaster, Sean Moncrieff, on his new book.

Full interview available here:

2 thoughts on “The Irish paradox

  1. And the thing is the Irish who speak against Travellers, some among my own friends, believe 100% the are not racist because they are speaking of facts!
    To see people hide behind signs while blocking workers access to a field to build a temporary site for those who lost homes in Carrickmines says it all. We are poles apart and until both sides learn to communicate and live alongside each other I don’t know what will happen.

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