Traveller Movement annual conference 2020 – GRT campaigners say it’s time to Stop Traveller Hate
The Traveller Movement held its first ever digital conference on the 12th of November. Entitled Our Truth. Our Voice, the conference aimed to tackle the toxic anti-Traveller narrative that permeated public discourse in the last twelve months. Speakers included MP for Coventry South Zarah Sultana, Chair of the Youth Justice Board, Keith Fraser and Rom Belong programme coordinator, Chrissie Browne.
Conference delegates were treated to a rousing speech by Senator Eileen Flynn, the first Irish Traveller elected to the Irish Seanad (Senate). Senator Flynn’s key message was one of empowerment and inclusivity, leaving conference delegates feeling inspired:
“We are all different, but deserve equal treatment, and we have equal value. We have to be mindful also of barriers within our community. Let’s empower our young people, even when we know as adults those opportunities are not there. Education is the key. It opens up our eyes to the world.”
Since March many new inequalities have come to light as a result of the pandemic, adding to the pre-existing inequalities and social injustices that GRT people have experienced for decades due to government inaction. Further to that, 2020 saw an increase in toxic media coverage, not helped by the dreadful Channel 4 programme Dispatches: The Truth about Traveller Crime. The conference sought to reclaim that narrative by providing a platform to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people through the conference. Speakers and workshops discussed important topics such as getting children back into education following the pandemic, calling out toxic anti-Traveller stereotyping in the media, political and democratic participation, and addressing the overrepresentation of Travellers in the criminal justice system. It was a fantastic and inclusive conference all round.
CEO of the Traveller Movement Yvonne MacNamara said: we were delighted to welcome people online for our first ever digital conference. We were inspired to hear from Senator Eileen Flynn, and we hope it encourages more Gypsy, Roma or Irish Traveller people to get involved in politics.
Chair Pauline Anderson OBE said: it was a pleasure to deliver TMs first ever digital conference and to see so many familiar faces. I was heartened by the positive discussions and by the young people coming up through the ranks. I think it left us all feeling reinvigorated, inspired, and ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead.
You can follow the conference on Twitter using the following hashtag: #TMconference2020