Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Ceisteanna (689, 690)

Niamh Smyth


689. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps she has taken to promote Traveller culture awareness; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47784/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth


690. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of times staff from her Department have attended meetings of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy Steering Group in 2018 and to date in 2019; the dates of those meetings; the name and position of those in attendance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47785/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 689 and 690 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy, 2017 – 2021 is led and coordinated by the Department of Justice and Equality which is responsible under the Strategy for a range of measures intended to ensure that Traveller culture, identity and heritage is supported and valued within Irish society.

The Travelling Community has a rich culture, with unique traditions and crafts which are an integral part of the heritage of this community. As I have previously advised the House in my response to Dáil Question No. 22 of 6 November last, my Department and several of the bodies under its remit, have undertaken a number of initiatives in support of the objectives of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy, 2017 – 2021.

On 18 July last, I launched the permanent National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, celebrating living cultural heritage practices in Ireland. This initiative represents official State recognition of cultural practices all around Ireland, two of which are Traveller Tinsmithing and Cant/Gammon, the traditional language spoken by Irish Travellers.

The development of the National Inventory of Ireland’s Intangible Cultural Heritage is an integral part of my Department’s work under the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which requires signatory States to recognise, protect and promote the living cultural heritage of their countries.

Funding provided to Local Authorities under the Creative Ireland Programme in 2018 also supported the undertaking by the Waterford Traveller Community Development Project of Neegas Whidden: ‘Telling our own Stories’. This project focused on capturing the stories of the elder members of the Travelling community by recording older members of the community and presenting their reminiscences as podcasts online and as audio supports at events. Older Travellers are mostly invisible in Irish society. This initiative made sure that the life experiences of older Travellers were recorded and valued for future generations of Travellers and the general population to enjoy.

Examples of other initiatives promoting Traveller Culture awareness by bodies under the aegis of my Department include:

The development and realisation of the Travellers' Journey Exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life in County Mayo in 2018. The exhibition, which ran for a year, was opened in July 2018 by President Michael D. Higgins and included a series of events and talks on aspects of Traveller Culture and Identity. Projects arising from the Travellers’ Journey Exhibition include:

- CAMP. An art project led by artist Aideen Barry in which she and her students from Limerick School of Art and Design worked with members of the Traveller community in the west of Ireland to produce a series of visual art pieces. The resultant art pieces will be installed as part of this exhibition. This project ran from November 2018 – February 2019 in the Museum of Country Life.

- A talk entitled ‘I am Traveller: Our Histories and Heritage’ chaired by Senator Collette Kelleher held in February 2019 for which Traveller groups from Cork, Donegal, Meath, Mayo and Dublin formed the panel and shared their insights on traditional and contemporary Traveller culture and interesting community initiatives.

- The launch in April 2019 of the Travellers Journey Children’s Book. This was a partnership project between the National Museum, Kids’ Own Publishing, Involve, and Scoil Iosa, Ballina and funded by the National Museum, Department of Justice and Equality and Mayo North East under SICAP and PEIL.

The hosting by the Crawford Art Gallery in partnership with Cork Traveller Women’s Network & Cork Visibility Group of a number of events in the Gallery as part of Cork Traveller Pride 2019 Festival;

- Talking with Travellers: Workshop for people interested in knowing more about the journey, history, culture and real lived experience of Irish Travellers.

- Looped Film Screenings: Traveller Oral history film “Would you like to Suni at the Vardo” by Cork Traveller Women’s Network and UCC Folklore Dept. Film “Beady Pocket” is based on a poem by Traveller writer Rosaleen McDonagh, film by Mahon Traveller women with Frameworks Films.

- Craft Workshops :Workshops on the traditional Traveller craft of paper flower making.

In common with a number of other Departments and Agencies my Department is represented on the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy Steering (NTRIS) Group which is chaired by Minister of State David Stanton T.D. and hosted by the Department of Justice and Equality. I am advised that officials from my Department, at Assistant Principal and Higher Executive Officer level have attended seven meetings of this group in 2018 and to date in 2019. Further details of the work of this group would be available to the Deputy from the Department of Justice and Equality that provides the secretariat to the group.