Minceirs Whiden (Cant for Travellers talking), Ireland’s only all Traveller forum was formed in 2004 with the aim of creating a safe place that Travellers could come together and discuss the issues affecting our community and where Travellers could build a collective strategy to address these issues. And to support the development of a collective Traveller voice where all Travellers could participate have an equal say in the key decision that will impact all the Travelling community, an example of this is Traveller Ethnicity campaign.
To do this Minceirs Whiden recognised the importance of engaging directly with the Traveller community, particularly those who were not engaged with local or national groups or have traditionally been unwilling to link in with any Traveller organisations.
Minceirs Whiden decided the most effective way to do this was hold 4 Traveller only meetings each year 1 in each of the provinces going to a different county each year, we also hold 1 national event every year, and when we can (depending on funds) also provide Traveller specific training and workshops, including political participation and equality and diversity.
To date, this has been very successful, and we build up our membership to over 800 members, Minceirs Whiden wants to see this number grow to include all Travellers, every Traveller has an equal voice and an equal say on decisions made. Minceirs Whiden is made up of general assembly i.e. 800 Traveller members and Minceirs Whiden council, we hold an election for council members every 2 years.
Membership of Minceirs Whiden includes many leading Traveller activism and Travellers working with National and Local Traveller groups and organisation. While Minceirs Whiden believes This work was done on a voluntary up to end of 2016 when MW received funding from Dept. of Justice and Equality.
The key issue and areas of work Minceirs Whiden have focused on are;
- The recognition of Traveller Ethnicity so that all Travellers would understand what it meant and why this recognition is so important.
- The Travelling community is very small less than 40,000 Travellers in Ireland and the UK yet the statistics for life expectancy, opportunity, and outcomes for the Traveller community is shocking.
- Minceirs Whiden works to raise awareness and understanding within our community that by working together we can overcome the obstacles our community has had to deal with. Together we can create better outcomes for our community so that the future generations don’t have to deal with the issue that we, our parents and ancestors had to deal with.
- We try to create an understand the much of the issue’s suicide, depression, drugs, and anti-social behaviour and feuding are caused by internalised racism & oppression caused by discrimination, social isolation and lack of opportunities.
Some Statics from the Traveller community – All Ireland Health Study 2010
- Traveller men die on average 15 years earlier than settled men, Traveller women die on average 11 years earlier that settled women, the same life expectancy as Irish People in the 1940’s.
- Travellers have the highest infant mortality rate, the highest rate of unemployment at 84%, as a community the worst living conditions, suicide rates are on average 7 times higher than the wider community, lowest educational attainment.
Minceirs Whiden is focused on supporting the development of a political platform for the Traveller community
- Minceirs Whiden developed a Traveller specific voter education pack and ran a very successful several Traveller specific political participation workshops.
- We encourage and support Travellers to become more politically aware and to engage with politics both at a local & national level
- To encourage and support Travellers to consider running for elections both local & national.
- Minceirs Whiden wants the Traveller community to have a seat in the Irish Seanad, as part of our political participation campaign Minceirs Whiden is raising this with all the political parties, requesting that after the next election the next Taoiseach will allocate a Seanad seat to the Traveller community.
- Minceirs Whiden is looking into developing a system where Travellers will be able to vote for a candidate. Every Traveller would have a vote.