Traveller Political Participation

Traveller Political Participation

A key objective of Minceirs Whiden is the promote a collective Traveller voice and support the development of a political platform for Irish Travellers.

To achieve this objective Minceirs Whiden, as part of Traveller Pride 2015 Minceirs Whiden developed a Traveller Specific Political Participation pack “Getting Democracy to work for the Traveller Community”. In the run-up to the 2016 general election, Minceirs Whiden delivered a series of Traveller Specific Political Participation workshops around Ireland.

This training was very well received, as part of our work within the community we have built a section on Traveller Political Participation into all events including regional meetings and outreach work.

It is important to mention that Minceirs Whiden are non-party aligned and we do not advise Travellers who they should vote for.

The most important issues for Minceirs Whiden are;

  • That the Traveller Community become fully aware of the power of their vote.
  • That Irish Travellers register and vote in local, national, European elections and referendums.
  • That Irish Travellers have the self-belief and confidence to stand as candidates in election in our Country.
  • That our community gains political visibility
  • We start to develop a strong Traveller political lobby to bring about positive changes.
  • In the longer term this work will lay the foundations of building a National Traveller Political Platform.

The Traveller Community is made up of less than 40,000 people, with a unique structure 41.8% are aged 25 years or over.

The Irish Traveller community is a growing vote, a vote that has a lot of untapped potentials. Currently far too many Travellers don’t vote because of lack of voter education or apathy, because of this our community doesn’t have the political leverage either with Political Parties or County Councillors that it could have.

The “Getting Democracy to work for the Traveller Community” pack covers

  • Voter registration, how and where to register to vote.
  • Checking the voter register to confirm your registered/changing address on the voter register.
  • How politicians can check if you are using your vote.
  • The Power of the Vote to bring about change for marginalised communities.
  • Campaigns and fights to gain to right to vote around the world including, Ireland north and south, Black Americans civil rights movement, Women’s right to vote, South Africa and the apartheid system etc.
  • Irish Political System, Oireachtas i.e.
  • The Role of the President,
  • Role and Function of the Dail,
  • The Role and Function of the Seanad Eireann,
  • Role and Function of Local Government.
  • Role of Ministers of Europe / Council of Europe.
  • The important of the Traveller Community becoming visible within the Irish Political system both local and nationally.
  • We give examples of local /national elections percentage of people who voted.
  • Discuss why people don’t vote.
  • Overcoming fear and apathy on voting.
  • Quota system and counts.

The key focus is getting the community to;

  • Understand the true value of their vote and its power to bring about change.
  • To educate the Traveller community on how to vote
  • To breakthrough fear and apathy about voting.
  • To actively encourage and support members of the Traveller Community. to run in elections.
  • To help support the development of a local Traveller voting strategy.

Minceirs Whiden delivers this training in a Traveller friendly and specific way, we always get a very positive response and feedback from the Traveller Community when delivering this training.


  • We have seen an increase in awareness and interest within the community in engaging with the political systems and elections.
  • Within our Community, we are hearing the voices of a growing number of Irish Travellers discussing and debating political issues in a very informed and knowledgeable manner.

Minceirs Whiden wants to see this becoming the norm.

The Traveller Community has the potential to build a very strong political lobby and we believe this lobby can be used to bring about positive changes for Our People.

There are still challenges to be addressed to ensure that the majority if not every member of the Traveller Community;

  • Become more politically aware and politically engaged
  • Is registering to vote,
  • Cast their vote
  • Make informed political decisions,
  • That every Irish Traveller has the knowledge and the confidence to feel that if they want to, they have the right to go forward as a candidate in any election in our Country.
  • To progress this further Minceirs Whiden we will be holding a workshop in October 2018 aimed at leadership with Traveller organisations and Traveller Activists to “Supporting the Traveller Community’s Political Awareness and Political Participation”

Minceirs Whiden’s objective is that;

  • All participants will receive Traveller Specific Political Participation Training.
  • That they will be able to deliver this training to Travellers in their locality.
  • That a collective strategy to increase Traveller Political Participation throughout Ireland is agreed.

Irish Travellers who have ran or were elected in Ireland

  • Nan Joyce was the first Irish Traveller to run for election, she ran in the general election in 1982 and got twice as many the votes as the anti-Traveller groups she stood against in Dublin.
  • Martin Ward elected Mayor of Tuam, Co Galway 2003 – Contest 2019 Local Elections
  • Eoin Ward Mayor of Tuam 2010
  • Ellen Mongan’s Elected Tuam Urban Council 1999
  • Tom Stokes Mayor of Longford 2009
  • Rosaleen McDonagh – ran for election to Seanad Eireann on the Trinity Panel 5 times.
  • Bernard Sweeney ran as an independent in the local election in Sligo 2016.
  • Sinn Fein Senator Padraig Mac Lochlainn mother is an Irish Traveller
  • TJ Hogan -Local Election Cork 2019
  • Julie O’Reilly – Local Election – Longford 2019
  • Catherine Coffey O’Brien – Local Election Cork 2019
  • AnnMarie Roche – Local Election Loughrea 2019