Nomads

from by Renato Ventura

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Travellers are Travellers for all eternity.
Travellers were Travellers in ancient history.
Travellers, I would say it world wide,
Travellers are Travellers I will say it with pride.
Bernard Power
Travellers are an indigenous minority who, historical sources confirm, have been part of Irish society for centuries. Travellers long shared history, cultural values, language (known as Gammon, Shelta, or Cant), customs and traditions make them a self-defined group, and one which is recognisable and distinct. Their culture and way of life, of which nomadism is an important factor, distinguishes them from the sedentary (settled) population. Their contribution to music and story-telling has been of great importance to these traditions. Travellers were the link between isolated communities in a rural society. They carried the music, stories and news from village to village. They also kept these traditions alive during the oppression of the British, who tried to destroy Irish Culture.
While it is clear that Traveller have long suffered from discrimination and prejudice in Irish society, up until recently very little was known about these experiences, and Travellers are often invisible to policy and decision makers. However these gaps have begun to be closed in recent years but though legislation has been enacted to address discrimination against the Travellers, discrimination is still an issue. The Traveller community in Ireland experiences social exclusion and discrimination at all levels of society. Travellers live with the daily reality of being refused access to a range of services including shops, pubs, hairdressers and laundrettes. Systematic efforts were made to assimilate Travellers into the dominant population on the assumption that it was the best interests of everyone. In a public attitudes survey published by the governments 'Know Racism' campaign in February 2004 72% of respondents agreed that the settled community do not want members of the Traveller community living amongst them, while 48% disagreed that Traveller make a positive contribution to Irish society. Since 1999 Irish Travellers have been recognised in English law as an ethnic group and protected under the Race Relations Act.

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from Journey, track released December 15, 2007

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Renato Ventura Aci Catena, Italy

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