As the year draws to a close, it is worth reflecting on what has been achieved over the course of 2014 as a Movement.
In one respect, as a collective, the fact that Traveller organisations exist and continue to work in such vibrant ways is a testament to the energy and commitment of volunteers and staff at a local and national level.
It would be very easy to end the year by simply looking back at what the challenges were (and they were many) but perhaps we need to look back, see the many positive things we have done collectively and use that to feel proud of ourselves as a Movement and feel energised about what we can achieve in the New Year.
Each of our members in its own way has had its own successes despite cuts to funding, increasing demand on Traveller organisations and the pressures of austerity and racism on our community at every level. Yet we seldom take the time to reflect on the positive strength that we have as a community and a Movement in creating very real change on a daily basis- no matter how small that change is.
One of the things we will endeavour over 2015 is to try and share some of those positive messages as a collective: whether at our AGM, regional meetings, Facebook or our ezine, as we must never lose sight that one of the strengths we bring as a national representative Movement is the generation of hope to give us energy to continue to fight injustice and bring about real change for Travellers in Ireland.
And it is very easy where that hope comes from when we see the many new Traveller activists who have played key roles within the Movement this year. The leadership programme finished with 17 participants who will all go on to do amazing things within the Movement. Our AGM featured five activists taking a lead role as key note speakers and our Traveller Pride Week publication showcased some of the amazing work Traveller men are involved in across the country. Once again the Traveller Pride Awards showcased the talents our community has despite the obstacles put in our way.
Travellers were visible taking key roles nationally and internationally challenging non-delivery of accommodation and the failure of the State to recognise Traveller ethnicity. Given that one of the key aims of ITM was to have Traveller ethnicity recognised, the Statement by Minister O Riordain that this would happen within 6 months is a cause for celebration- even if we need to keep the pressure on to ensure it does happen within that timeframe.
Much, of course, remains to be done. Together over the course of 2015 we as a Movement can meet these challenges and continue to fight anti-Traveller racism to bring about a better Ireland. We are looking forward to how collectively we can do this with the support of our members as a strong, vibrant Movement.
On behalf of the Central Group and Staff Team of the Irish Traveller Movement, I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.
All the best,