The Irish Traveller Movement has come out in favour of the controversial Hate Crime Bill.
The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 is currently being considered by the Seanad and, if passed, would criminalise “incitement to violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons on account of certain characteristics”.
“Hate speech makes a significant contribution in terms of Traveller mental health and also in terms of suicide rates,” he said.
“We’re seeing that where young Travellers are being targeted online, where the language of hate speech is being [used] and that translates into actions.”
The Traveller community is currently gripped by a mental health crisis and 11% of Travellers die by suicide.
Mags Casey, who has lost 29 members of her family to suicide, believes it is because of the way settled people treats Travellers.
“Society tells you that you're a savage, that you’re a third-class citizen - basically you’re an animal and we treat you like an animal,” Ms Casey said.
“That’s what settled people have done to us; they’ve treated us like animals and savages and that hurts, that really hurts.
“That’s been a huge contributing factor towards mental health [problems] and suicide in Irish society.”
'Detrimental impact on our young people'
This morning, the Irish Traveller Movement and Dublin’s Pavee Point Travellers’ Centre will hold a special briefing to outline how attacks on the community have increased in recent years.
“Travellers have been threatened,” Mr Joyce said.
“We’ve seen online hate - which really has a detrimental impact on our young people - and we’ve seen how that contributes in terms of their mental health and suicide in the Traveller community.”
At 12pm today, Travellers and their allies will also gather outside Leinster House calling for a National Traveller Mental Health Strategy to combat the suicide crisis in the community.
Main image: A Traveller caravan. Picture by: RollingNews.ie