Chris McDonagh - Traveller, Activist, Father

October 21, 2021 00:41:31
Chris McDonagh - Traveller, Activist, Father
The Plastic Podcasts
Chris McDonagh - Traveller, Activist, Father
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Show Notes

Born to an Irish Traveller family in Manchester, Chris McDonagh is the founder of Travellers Against Racism as well as Campaigns Officer for Brighton-based charity FFT (Friends, Families, Travellers). We talk about Channel 4 documentaries, the public perception of Travellers, the notion of being “settled” and his hopes for the future.

Meanwhile Lorraine Maher, founder of IAmIrish, brings a unique and personal perspective to our Plastic Pedestals slot.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:21 How you doing? I'm Doug Giovanni and you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. Now, if I seem a little rushed in today's plastic podcast, it's because I've got to get my skates on today's guest. Chris McDonough is one busy man as founder of travelers against racism and campaigns officer for the Brighton based charity, friends, families, travelers. Chris is an activist writer and advisor plus he's a dad, which explains our haste as we're fitting this between school runs born to an Irish traveler family in Manchester. Chris founded travelers against racism as a result of watching the channel four dispatches program, the truth about traveler crime. But we're bound to talk about that in a bit. Once I've asked him how you doing. Speaker 2 00:01:06 Yeah. I'd say it's all right. You know, it's just, it's it's the second day of school. So I still get news for myself. Speaker 1 00:01:14 Yes, yes. It's backwards abroad. There's a small military Speaker 2 00:01:16 Operation. Exactly what it is. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:01:19 Spare nappies, all that sort of thing. Ah, how I remember it and how I never want to go back. Um, I mentioned it, the introduction there, the founding of travelers against racism as a response to the, the child for dispatchers program. If I can take you back there. I mean, so when you're watching it just for the listeners who may not be familiar with the program, what happened there? Speaker 2 00:01:39 Well, I was watching it, you know, because all these different programs, I like to watch them to see how they're kind of, you know, show my, my community basically. Um, so, so the name of the title itself that they are, that they're kind of intrigued me, you know, I know just by the title where we're, where the program was, was trying to go, you know, the truth about travel the crime, you know, so straight away with that title, it's really, it's just replaced traveler ethnicity, then that the program wouldn't have got the go ahead, you know, um, but seeing as it's travelers, you know, the, the film makers and the program, because he don't, he don't seem to care about that and, and to push it through and put it out anyway. Um, so I was watching this and they was state and all these things that it was claimed to be facts, you know, they had all these, these speakers who've come forward and the ones on face, it was more names. Speaker 2 00:02:37 It was just, it was all just hearsay. You know, that could have been anybody who was saying all these different things about, about travelers and, and, and the world criminals, but not all criminals. That's not true that there's a stereotype that it's spread and it's believed, it's believed by the non-educated, you know, people who don't know money, traveler people, you know, they might've met automatic came across, uh, so kind of criminal from the traffic community because obviously there's going to be criminals in the, in every community. Um, I was, I was watching this, this program and I'm seeing all this and I thought to themselves, am I allowed to swear? This is bullshit. This program is bullshit. What they're saying is bullshit. So it influenced me and it made me realize that I had to step forward. I had to do something I have to try and help make some kinds of change, change, perceptions, challenge, the stereotypes, you know, um, I don't do it for me. I don't do it for me because I grew up with all these stereotypes. I grew up with all this hate. I grew up with all these different people, believe in all this, these aren't true things, you know, being accused of things I've never done. And just because I'm a traveling man. So I do this for my children. You know, I'm far everybody, else's children from the traveling gypsy community, Speaker 1 00:03:56 Charles against racism. Is that when you also joined with friends, families, travelers, and also the travel and movement advisory board, or were you already involved in organizations? Speaker 2 00:04:05 No, no, I, I wasn't involved. I think it was through my work and travelers against racism that, that kind of led me down these different avenues and opened up these different opportunities, um, to brilliant organizations, you know, um, they're doing a lot of good work to challenge stereotypes of selves and, and, um, it, it was good to be to get involved and, and B to have that opportunity to step forward and say things on behalf of, of myself like children, you know, and to speak, not for my community because I don't speak for my community. I speak for myself. I, I'm not the fights of, of the traveler community. Um, if I spot or not device start this campaign or open the, a few different avenues for Leanne and it eventually led me to where I am now. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:04:51 Oh, we'll just stay on the subject of the program. In particular, it received a vast number of complaints about it too, off calm, as far as I'm aware, they opened their investigation back in May, 2020. And we are talking now in early September, 2021 and off content to, or at least claim to try to have their investigations wrapped up within 50 days. And now it's been over a year. Do you know if there's any sense that, uh, Aqua ever going to make a ruling on this? Speaker 2 00:05:15 The they've made a ruling. They came out and they said that it was not breach, you know, blatant discrimination, blatant racism. You know, I just can't understand, despite all the complaints, the title alone should be enough to understand that the intent of the program, you know, they was making a whole entire ethnic minority, a whole community criminal by association. He found people who did commit crime from the traveling community and they spread the stereotype and they spread the light that we're all criminals. We're not all criminals, you know, there's good and bad everywhere. There's good and bad in every community. You know, what the, what these program makers do you never do is do you never show the good side that the traveling gypsy community do you know? I don't know. I don't know if you know about a couple, a couple of years ago, there was a, it was kind of like a game where everybody, all the traveler, gypsy people, we was kind of challenging. Speaker 2 00:06:10 Each other to donate was we flipped up all the food banks. I don't know if you saw that. So what we do was I could go into the supermarket, I fill up a trolley with food, I pay for it, and then I'd make a video. And I say, well, I challenge you. And I nominate you. It was on nomination. So I nominated, choose, just save my, one of my cousins, my brothers, whoever it was. And then that there, they have to then, uh, within the next couple of days, whatever it was, they have to then go through the same. Phillip they're there, Charlie pay for it, challenge somebody else, nominate somebody else, and then we'd get the food. And we donate that to the food banks. And at one point, the food banks was trying to turn those away because if you had that much food, you know, but it's the same at Christmas. Speaker 2 00:06:58 We, we, we donate money and we donate ties that to the less fortunate, you know, that to children who need children in need, who, who, whose motors with fighters, probably in some kind of, you know, dire, Roatan, and they can't get out of it. And they need a little bit of help. And we, we, we donate tie for, for the purpose that every child can enjoy, uh, you know, open the president at Christmas, you know, but these programs, cause we'll make a program about that. They looked at sensationalized and they looked to make programs that demonize a whole community, you know, Speaker 1 00:07:31 And I'm probably going to spoil whatever broadcasting career I have with channel four. But it does seem as though the channel has some form where the travel community is concerned only in particular, I'm thinking about my big fat gypsy wedding as a series. Speaker 2 00:07:42 Yeah. That there was another one that, that, that there, I think that was the, that kickstarted that the whole program make. And also it feels like there's things in that, in that there, where would you stay at this fact again, spreading stereotypes and legs grabbing, grabbing, for instance, I don't know if you know, what, what grabs is supposed to be. The boy he approaches the girl at a wedding or somebody likes and he grabs her and makes her kiss him. I never heard about that. I'm a traveling man. I I've, I've been called to the women's my whole life witness, crystals, whatever I will call these dues and these parties. And not until the program that I see anything about grabbing, I didn't have a clue what that was. So what they did was take up something that somebody probably did, maybe a small little minority did. And then these stereotype that set us the whole community. That that's a common thing. It's not common. It's not common in our community. If somebody is going to grab your system, you're not going to start this not going happen. You know, that's like an assault. There was something in your system. That's not going to happen. That there are some that believe in this. For me personally, my family, my friends, everybody who I know does not believe in that. Why do you think Speaker 1 00:08:45 That a community of fair game Speaker 2 00:08:47 Socially acceptable in those, you know, the public, uh, needs somebody to hate and the media seem to have chosen hoses and you know, but this always been the way we've my, my father, my father's father, everybody, we've all grown up with this, this kind of hatred, the stereotype hanging over us and it's become socially acceptable to hate traveler people. You know, that the media isn't helping because the media and the newspapers, they seem to think that it's newsworthy to put up that traveler people are pulled down to like a bit of waste ground or something, you know, and that there can make front page news. How I don't understand how people who have nowhere else to go make the news, how that is important to us, that people need the hill. I don't understand that that there's, that there's just using people's situations, you know, th th th to the newspapers advantage so they can get clicks and they can get visits. Speaker 2 00:09:43 But at the book, they don't understand that what they're doing is they're taking photos of families who could be desperate, have nowhere else to go. And then they make an issue when they were making, making news out of their living situations. You know, because across the, across the UK, there's a nationwide shortage of sites and stuff, and places, these travelers who's on these bits of waste ground, or could be in a car park. They're only a symptom of the larger problem, the larger problem being that there isn't enough space across the country and all the sites across the country, because there isn't enough sites. We have traditional stuff, places the local authorities have built that blocked off built-on salt, got rid of, you know, put these up of gold to these traditional stopping places that leaves us with very little obstacle, recent survey. Um, there was nearly 2000 families and a waiting list to get onto the sites. Speaker 2 00:10:33 How long is that going to take for these families to get out? And, you know, because there's funding is already living in, and these sites, you know, that there's, there's, there's not enough places for our folks to go, but where are we supposed to go? How can they tell us? You have to leave. They didn't they'll come on. They say, you have to live the spot. They tell us, you have to live here, but where are we supposed to go? What are we supposed to do? Is this, uh, an awful lot of what you do with when you're addressing travelers against racism or all the other areas that you are dealing with? I try and change stereotypes. I try to educate, you know, people who believe the stereotypes. They do. There's people who's approached me on my page and the believe these stereotypes, they took the time out to talk to me and I've spoke to them. Speaker 2 00:11:10 They speak to me like I'm a person with an open mind, and I do the same. And then I'll explain why the stereotypes at the, I let the belief, because it's reinforced to the media, you know, to, to these newspaper articles. And because they love the sensation liaison and play them an entire community for actions of a singular person. It's bits of everything. It's, it's, it's, it's challenging stereotypes. It's, it's educate. And it's, uh, calling out racism. When I see it, you know, I, I have, I have people who were believing these stereotypes and I've spoke to them. I've changed their minds. I know D deeper Kamala is, and they helped me in turn to challenge these stereotypes and educate, you know, because if I could change the mind of one person and then they can go on and speak about the truth about traveler people, you know, that that will not the stereotypes that people believe, and they can spread that message. And that that's a victory, you know, because if I could just plant that seed, you know, hopefully it'll grow into a tree. Speaker 1 00:12:11 You're listening to the plastic podcasts. We all come from somewhere else, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Our guest, Chris McDonald was born to a traveler family in Manchester, a family that found themselves housed due to personal circumstances. However, he dislikes the term settled travelers. I want to know more about where this comes from, but first I want to know more about how his story began Speaker 2 00:12:36 From the west of Ireland <inaudible> Slagle and county mail and how they made it. My father was, it was in new castle and, uh, he S he saw her around the bridge. She was crossing the bridge and w he was with his brother at the time. And he said, um, I don't know who she is. What does the woman I go to marry? And he did. They got married eventually, but he never gave up on her. Yeah. So I think it was love at first sight for them. Speaker 1 00:13:04 The other interviewees who will be coming earlier than you in this series tells almost exactly the same story about his own parents. His dad turns to his friend after seeing his mom and saw, it says, if I'm not married to that woman in the next couple of years, there's something wrong with the world. Um, so born in Manchester and the, uh, the, the traveling community there, Speaker 2 00:13:24 Well, I was born just outside Manchester and my purse, if get, this is like a born on Traveler's site. And it gives a trust like that. The road name, that there is a, is a sense of pride for me, you know, because not only I want you to travel, but my birth certificate recognizes me as a traveler man. Um, but growing up in Manchester around Manchester ways, it was as a, as a neighbor's child. You know, it, it, it, it was still, it was still, sometimes it was tough. Yeah. There was good parts. There's bad parts, you know, but the constant from, from a young age, we grow up and we have to get used to racism. You know, we have to get used to, we expect to be racially abused. We, we are taught to expect to be racially abused because it's, it's something that's common, you know, what are you doing here? Speaker 2 00:14:08 You're this, you know, the P word. And I don't want to say it awards cause that the very derogatory and I don't like to hear it. Um, but it was called a lot of racist names, you know, just, just, just because I lived in, in a trailer, like, you know, I don't, I don't understand why people, even as a child, they used to think this. I, I didn't know. I had no grasp of the concept that people could hate me, but know me as a person, because I live in a trailer, I live at different kinds of, of lifestyle. I don't live in a trailer. No, I don't even a trailer. I know. But when I did, they hated me for that fact. It's kinda, it's kind of, I don't know. Did you have any brothers or sisters? I've got six brothers, two sisters. Speaker 1 00:14:50 That must be the cross trailer. Speaker 2 00:14:52 That was couple does. More than one. Speaker 1 00:14:56 How big was the site? Speaker 2 00:14:57 We, we didn't really stop. It was more camps. There was a fellow. I forget his name. He used to work for the, for the council. And he used to follow us from like camp, the camp. He used to help us. He used to tell us like, you can stay here two weeks a week because you have to live in a few days. But he, he helped us. And he gave us the information that we needed. And if we needed help with like, uh, doctors or anything like that, he could initiate that. He could, he could help my father or my mother to, to go get these appointments. So it was needed at the time, but I don't take that. There is fairly common anymore that there's not coming anymore. It's more of a, like I was saying earlier, it's more of a childhood here. You don't even need, it does encourage them to use all this. But the touristic language, less of acceptance, a more of an attack. Now, what Speaker 1 00:15:39 Are your fondest memories of Speaker 2 00:15:41 Lunar the trailer, the freedom, the freedom, you know, you don't spend the time with my family. We, we, we, we used to we'd build deadens. You know, we, we pull up on, we'd be near forest or we'd be near trees or legs, and we'd spend the summer like in the lakes or learning to swim our sort, fight them with branches and build them bow and arrow, playing Cowboys and Indians, hiding in the bushes and, and building these 10 songs. So we was like in, in castles, I remember all these things, but it was good because as a family unit, as a tribe, the people as a family unit, but we're close, we grew up stores. We see a clothes from when we get older, you know, we, we sort of tended to those. Crystalens Whitten's, even though I'm hundreds of miles away from my family, you know, like 200 miles, we still, we still meet up. Speaker 2 00:16:24 And when we do meet up, we might've seen each other for a year, two years, but it's like, there's no change. You know, it's like, we've only just seen each other yesterday that there's no distance between us because that's the way we're growing up. We can't associate, or it's not for lack of want. It's more of a, we have to be careful who we associate with because we know that we're stereotype. We know that we're seen as outsiders, you know, we're the periphery of society. And we know that. So, so all we have is, is chiller. So we grew up with each other and we stay with John and we stick with it. I have friends who's from the settler community and they're, they're nice people, but there's also people still to this day who judged me just for being a traveler. They don't just be as a person. You don't know me as a person. All they see is a Trevor. Speaker 1 00:17:07 And we've all to that because if we're talking about the RFDS Asper, and that's what this podcast is really all about, it strikes me that Irish travelers are kind of swept to one side when it comes to talking about the diaspora. And I get the impression, that's also the case in Ireland itself, where Speaker 2 00:17:24 It Speaker 1 00:17:24 Strikes me that it's, that it's almost a, to, Speaker 2 00:17:26 To a certain extent, I think in our industry, it's the same. As in, as in, in England, the UK, um, we are seeing this as kind of like the lesser kind of people, you know, th you know, in, in our weird owning indigenous group of islands, but we're not, we're not recognized as that. You know, we come from Ireland, we are Irish travelers, and we're probably you w we, we, we still play the, did the Irish flag, you know, um, both in art and this one is the same kinda thing, you know, we're, we're seen as less, you know, and it's the media's interpretation of it's, it's, it's, it's the only demonizing, the demonizing hoses people, you know, I I'd love, I would love if people spoke to Jose and saw hoes as people, you know, you know, they, they don't see, there's like this, this title, and it's hanging over here and there's, you're a Irish traveler. Speaker 2 00:18:17 I approached me and I was traveling, but there's a title that we know that people see it. That's a nice traveler. They're going to say, he's not a person. He's not like me. He's not like you, that's a nice traveler. We have to invite him that that's on both sides of the water. You know, that there's the same kind of thing. And you could say as when certain parts of our, whether it's worse, it's worse than, than it is in England. There was a recent story, um, not too long ago. And those are, and I was shoved a family and he was homeless. He was homeless for a long time. They had nowhere to go. So, so the local authority ended up finding them a house sold. Uh, the local community didn't find out the travelers was moved into this house. Um, they went around and the petrol bombed the house, the petrol on the house, because Jarvis was going to do that because he didn't want to travel to this rando. That was a homeless family. That was, that was children. He was looking forward to going there, moving in, starting school, settling down, you know, making friends. But he never even got that opportunity because the local community decided that he didn't want travelers in the area without getting to know them. As people, you know, like Hussein, you only seen the title travelers, and that was it. The deport, the host down, Speaker 1 00:19:24 I read your blog that you had up for friends, families, travelers. And you talk about a point at which, or you go off to the shops in order to pick up some, some transfers. When you're just a little kid, you kind of get lost. And then all of a sudden you're surrounded by a bunch of other kids who decided that because you're, you're a traveler you're, you're clearly now to eat, to be picked on in here. And somebody comes on and says, basically, it's like, Speaker 2 00:19:50 Yeah, yeah, she did. Yeah. I was going to the shop. I remember I was probably about five and I used to go to the shop, my brothers, but he wasn't there to do that. I don't know if he was off playing. So Winston, I was by himself. So I decided that the shop was a fire because I used to go with him and I kind of knew the whale. I had an idea of the way. So I had 50 pens in my pocket, a lot of money, and I decided I wanted to go buy these jungles. I had the little tattoos and you can roll onto your arms. And I got lost. I walked away from the company I got lost. Um, I ended up getting surrounded, uh, pushed to the goal, you know, called names and, and whatever else. And I remember I as a child, I remember, you know, that, that, that feeling of helplessness, I didn't know what I did wrong. Speaker 2 00:20:39 I didn't have a clue what was happening. I was, I was being attacked and I wasn't sure why. And you know, because I didn't know these people, I didn't know what was happening, but I was child. And I had to go through that. You know, I'm not totally far. So I totally traveled to Portsmouth. I have to go through that. You know, there's a lot of, a lot of racism. Cause that's what it is. It's racism. And it's, it's, it's instilled, you know, from, from window young because you know, if somebody is here and their parents in, or they're just this, they're just that, you know, they're going to start believing. That's what the air, you know, cause that's what they heard. That's what the user, it needs to start with the parents. The parents need to educate their young travelers or people. You know, that, that we're not animals. Speaker 2 00:21:18 We're not criminals. We're not, you know, I'm not saying that there isn't criminals in the community because there is criminal significantly. But what I am saying is where people, and, and there's a lot of people they don't want to see that, you know, they choose to see who's hoses as how the media portrays us. It's, it's just, that's just how I, I, I grew up with, you know, all these different pilots and I'm trying to change these, this way of TinCan, because this is the way it, I don't want my children to grow up thinking the same way. I don't want them growing up, experiencing the things that you did. I want them to grow up and have a chance in life. I wanted to grow up, you know, get education, um, be educated, all, grow up as people to be accepted for who they are, because that's all, anybody really wants is to be accepted for who they are. Speaker 2 00:22:03 You know, there's a, there's a, there's a big lack of acceptance that we have to overcome, you know, even to get the same equal opportunities as everybody else, because we were not presented opportunities that everybody else has. You know, for some time the people and the flushes, this class is a luxury, you know, something that everybody else has in the house all day, every day, there's a lot of travel that people who have no access to water and they have no, no work and tiles, it's been reported that there was some local authorities sites. It's been months, peoples went months without like run a motto or work in sanitation. It can be a luxury for some people just to have, you know, the basic necessities that a human being needs. Speaker 1 00:22:52 We'll be back with Chris McDonogh in a moment. Now, usually this is the part of the podcast that I called the plastic pedestal, where I ask one of my interviewees to nominate a member of the diaspora of personal cultural or political significance to them this week, Lorraine, Mar founder of IMR, Irish brings a personal dimension and her own unique take on the pedestal, reinforcing that we do all come from somewhere else. Speaker 3 00:23:16 It's going to talk about, um, Jamaican woman that kind of took me in like her child's when I was young, she had five children and she literally, my kids called her now, but she just taught me how to be a woman. She taught me how to be proud of my skin. She taught me how to be proud of my hair. She taught me how to look after my hair. She taught me to love my mother, regardless of what pain there had been before. She just taught me how to be. And sadly, I lost her the same year that I lost my mother. Her name was Ivy, Ivy rose combo, beautiful. And my nanny Ivy, and you know what? Cause she even taught me so much about why I should be proud of being Irish. Um, you know, why it was so what was so important and, and she, you know, she, she really used to make, just to make great risk. Tate is actually, but you know, she, she is really kind of cool. She's taught me so much about Ireland, but Dennis, about Irish marsh about, uh, you know, petite is all of the kind of connections, but really brought them all to life. Um, for me really did. She's called me, her Irish to, uh, to very special lady, to be honest with you in my life. That's the woman that has had the most significance in my life, Speaker 1 00:24:36 Lorraine Mar there. And if you want to hear more of her brilliant interview or indeed many of our other brilliant interviews, then check out our [email protected] also available on Spotify, Amazon, or apple podcasts. And if you want the latest offerings from TPP, then why not subscribe, place your email address in the space. It's the foot of our [email protected] and one complimentary click later, you'll be getting all the plastic bounty you can handle. And more now back to Chris McDonna and following our talk of being settled and looking at headlines regarding the travel community. There's one particular take that I want his thoughts on. And that is that being a traveler in this day and age is a lifestyle Speaker 2 00:25:22 Joyce and all of a sudden the chase knowledge it's it's, it's who we are as people, the name traveler, you know, it kind of insinuates it's for people who travel or original name was the traveler. You know, w we was called Pavi. You know, that, that's what we're mainly known as back in Ireland. So I think that the name travel, I came from people who, because we used to work, we used to have the roads, like we've been over all backwards and forwards. Since that there's been reports back to the 11th century, um, of a wondering people who came over from Ireland, that the name there wasn't really reporting. And I think it was the 19th century, but we've been called backwards or forwards all the fears for far, for hundreds of years. It's, it's not a lifestyle choice. It's who we are. It's artistic, you know, it's, it's not what we practice. It's, it's who we are as people. There's this old saying that says, if you put a cat in our dog house, at what point does that cat become a dog? You know, and it's the same for travelers. You can put it in house, you can put it in bricks and mortar, but we're not going to become set the people we are travelers, because that's who we are. Speaker 1 00:26:22 Uh, there was a point at which, um, family did move into a house. Speaker 2 00:26:26 Yeah, that's right. Yeah. There was, uh, a family illness or, yeah, we, we, we ended up moving into a house. So we were kind of backwards and forwards moving into the house, back into the trailers. But we moved into a house. And in Montessori, the workers who was working on a house, this is a different story. I don't, I haven't, nobody knows this. Um, so there was workers who was working in the house. He was, comes to, the workers are dunno. They was plaster in the house anyway. So I w I went because we was camped close by. So I went to see this house and the council works since I, they said, what are you doing now? So let's just look at the house. She says, you're not going to live here. I said, yeah, my family is moving here. They said, no, get dirty PPP, two gentlemen. Speaker 2 00:27:06 And this is council workers. And they said, you're not going to live here. This is for somebody else. This house is for someone else. So that there was another thing. All these experiences have led me down this road to lead me to where I entered in, where I feel like I have, you know, it's not even a need. You know, it's not even a want. It's a, it's a moral duty where I have to challenge these people and change their stereotypes to change, change their perceptions. And how do you see who's? You know, because I take it on myself, I know I can't change the war. I'm not going to change the work, but if I can change my mind, you know, like I said, that's a success story. What was school like school was, yeah, it was just school, I guess. Um, it's what it was used. Speaker 2 00:27:48 I was just put into a class and there was a table. It was a table. And everybody's called the traveler table and all the adults, all the children in the class, do you use it like, oh, there's, they're stinky, they're smelly. Did you know all the troubles on the table that used to go the wrong way? And it delivers, the teacher gave us, used to give us paper, like a bit of paper for our book. Cause with a couple of tips, like entertain yourself, draw pictures. And we put out this table was just travelers. So the students was being tasked and we was kind of left at this table to our own devices. You know, I wanted to learn, I wanted to learn. And there was times I wouldn't give him the opportunity that there was one person. Cause I, I used to love reading and I still do. Speaker 2 00:28:33 But, um, there was one teacher, she wasn't a teacher, she was a volunteer. And she saw, she saw what was going on and she kind of plucked me from the class and she knew that I wanted to read and I loved reading and the little drawn and I wanted to learn and she kind of took me and she used to sit me in the library and she taught me how to read. Basically it was her who taught me how to read. And she was the one who kind of give me a little bit of hope, you know, because I used to look forward because he used to hate school. And then when she started taking me to the site and trying to teach me things, I kind of look forward to. I enjoyed it because I was given the opportunity to learn gentlemen. I was, I was given the same opportunity as everybody else. Speaker 2 00:29:14 And, and I appreciate it that probably, I probably appreciate it more than others because I was being denied as individual acts of kindness. Isn't it, that's all it takes. That's all it takes. You know, it, it it's, it's like a ripple effect. You know, you drop a little stone on top, you know that that's going to make ripples. It's only going to get bigger, bigger. If you could be the stolen one act of kindness, you know, that's, that's all it really takes sometimes, you know, to just stop one act of kindness. It's like, my mother has a scene and she says, if you see somebody at that think she got off <inaudible> um, she said, if you see somebody who said forward him, your smile, you know, because you just find that somebody to smile back and then they pass on the smile because that's why it's infectious. Speaker 2 00:29:54 So that that's something that she used to say to me, yeah. Being a traveler, do people get treated different, treat differently through 12 life, you know, to all the experiences that you're supposed to experiences of childhood is you're supposed to enjoy. It's, you know, w we're kind of pushed to the outside. We treat these children like children. We treat these people like travelers, you know, they have different ways of treatments. It was common. I think it still happens. It does still happen nine or still happens. I've been told to my page <inaudible> it still happens to still racism. And, and these, uh, inequality is across the board that definitely need to be addressed. And I think true the different campaigns and the different things that myself and the other organizations, not that I'm an organization, not just a singular person running a Twitter account, but there's organizations and they're running campaigns and they're doing run a big campaigns. And they're doing a great job in, in changing the whole perspective of the travel and gypsy community. You know, Speaker 1 00:31:01 You're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora, email [email protected] Now I wish we had more time to chat with Chris McDonogh, but that school bell will be ringing soon. So we quickly touch on a couple of points. And the first one is the rise in awareness of traveler issues, particularly online. I wonder if this is a move towards a greater understanding, or is there something else at play? Speaker 2 00:31:27 I think true social media, you know, because there's a lot of travelers now who, who have basic literacy skills, you know, there's a lot more now who can read more than it was 10, 20 years ago. So to that effect, they know how to giant social media. And, and so I think, I think due to that fact as well, that kind of gives all the travel, gypsy people, the opportunity to spread the things that's happening or the inequality is the face. So it's, it's become a more just because it's become more, more public. You know, it was all swept to the side, a person that the character, but now there's not really the opportunity to do that because there's a lot of people now who will speak are far, far, far from what's, right? Because we grow up, we grew up on and we it's, it's kinda sad to think about it. Speaker 2 00:32:12 We learned to expect these inequalities because we see it as a normal, you know, because that's what everybody else has gone through as well. But then if we can see the wider picture, we can see where it kept away from, from these certain opportunities. Because we're, we're, we're not, we're not settled, you know, to, to social media and all these, these, these different things can be addressed. It can be challenged because people are willing to stand up. Now they're willing to talk more because we have more of a platform because there's the social media and people are willing to listen to a better extent than it was say 20 years ago. Speaker 1 00:32:47 It's important where you're concerned. Isn't it. You've already said that there are certain words that you don't like using. And in the, uh, in the, in the preamble to this, of course, we talked about the term sex Speaker 2 00:32:56 Cold calling somebody a settled traveler to me, that's, that's detracting from the fact that they were traveling. You know, it does kind of given, giving somebody else a different name for their culture. You know, it's kind of, to me, it feels like the slowly, it's a slowly stripping away of, of our identity because we are traveling. The people were not settled, traveled to be, but it doesn't matter if we're settled, we're still travelers. You know, we, we can live in a house and we're still travelers, but then the stick, that kind of names at the hosts as they were settled, travel it detracts from the fact that we're still traveling people and we still have the rights to the travel. The person has the right, the wrong. I like to travel, you know, because that's who we are. That's who our people is. That's what we've always been. And then for somebody to come along and stick that, that, that they're not travelers and awarded the child was put the settled travelers kind of thing. It's just that, that's my personal opinion that I settled. Traveler is still a traveler. So why do you have to call them a settle traveler? They're a traveler at the end of this, Speaker 1 00:33:57 We talk about the IFT Asper in this country. There is that sense that neither one thing, nor the other than either psych British enough to be British or Irish enough to be Irish. Uh, um, was that a similar case when you guys moved into the house that perhaps you weren't necessarily seen as, as like a traveler enough, any longer, because you've moved into, into a house, is this why the subtle thing comes in there? Speaker 2 00:34:18 No. Um, well, when we moved in, we was obviously we were seen as outsiders, you know, but we weren't part of the community that we moved into straightaway. We was, we was seen as outsiders, like, um, although the children used to gather up outside because we had a big, a big front yard and they used to gather up outside and calling into stone stones or whatever, but you had to go up defend ourselves, not because we've been attacked constantly. So, yeah. Um, I don't think it leads back to pull over there. And it's not the fact that we went, we ended up having to stop traveling around it's that that's not why I think we shouldn't be called settled travelers. I, like I explained, we're still travelers travelers in the, in the lifestyle choice, you know, it's who we are as a people. It's artistic, you know, that's who we are, it's it, it's more than just an explanation or, or, uh, a description because it's, it's not, if you're gonna describe us as people then where the traveling people, when are people who travel that because there's a lot of us who had to stop, like it was like I was saying, there's a lot of us who had to stop traveling, um, due to personal circumstances, but we're still travelers. Speaker 1 00:35:28 The individuals who make a difference, say between, uh, English, uh, English, gypsies, Romos, and travelers, and Irish travelers. Do you think there's a difference Speaker 2 00:35:36 Obviously from different places, but we have a lot more in common than we do differences. You know, um, we experienced the same inequalities. We experienced the same, you know, anger, hatred towards us people, you know, we experienced the same fact that people see hoses, outsiders, you know, so, so there's, there's, there's something, it don't where different people were kind of the same at the same time, because, you know, w we have all the same experiences. You know, we, we, we went to the same things as each other. Speaker 1 00:36:09 I mentioned that as I'm sure you're aware that the Pontin situation was such that there was a series of Irish surnames that psycho had a list and none shall pass a bit and a little picture of candles. And it was a series of Irish names. And there was a disagreement there between Irish groups and travel groups. Uh, one of which went sight, you see it's anti Irish racism there and it's, uh, and the travel groups, I noticed anti traveler racism there. Whereas from my perspective, it looked like it was a combination of the two. Speaker 2 00:36:34 Yeah. Um, but my surname, my surname was on that list. Um, my wife saw her name before she was married, was on the list. There's a lot of names on that list that isn't travel looking for. So I, I personally take, I know this, this blacklist was targeted at Charlotte, probably there's target nightmares is my life. I'm not saying it wasn't, but what I will say is there was a definite targeting of travelers in that list. I have family members who phoned up, tried to book it beforehand before the, this list has come out. And this has been going on for years and they've been told, uh, <inaudible> that, that is free. That is free, but then they get a phone call back, or do you say, oh, no, we're double booked or something. But then if we get somebody from the set community, somebody we know on the same day, at the same time, they then automatically, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's a miracle that there free now, you know, the list, those have lots of different names and I'm not detracting away from the possibility that it's, it's in that Irish people, uh, English, people, German, whoever, you know, but I am seeing that there was a definite part of it that was aimed specifically at travelers. Speaker 1 00:37:40 We're running low on time. So I'm going to psych, uh, finish up with you because you're a busy man. You know, it's hard to keep up with you. So I've got, it's like, uh, take us down to my last three questions if I may. And first of all, is that, um, you were a gardener for awhile. Speaker 2 00:37:53 I was, I was. What was the great thing about that? I've always liked doing garden. Like I used to do it when it was a child. When, uh, when I was young, I was, I was only a kid. I used to walk around with, uh, shares and every week, and I used to go around, knock on all the neighbors and ask them, could I cut their grass for them? You know? And then I'd get like two pound, three pound, five pounds, and then I take those rich and then I could buy all the Roble and tattoos that I wanted. It was just something that I, that I did enjoy. My, my oldest son, he loves his already, you know, he has a little Thai lawnmower and he's always cooking the carpets. You know, it's always, it's just short enough now for your area. So that's a good job here. And I've got to pay him a pound. You know, he waits for the payment, the garden was supposed to be, and it takes my mind off things as well. You know, because I enjoy doing Speaker 1 00:38:40 Give you children, are you hopeful for their future? We talked about them a few times and so forth. Speaker 2 00:38:44 There's a new lock without the police powers, but the PCC bill and that there is going to criminalize the intent to reside. So, so travelers would put down into a ground, it's going to turn it from a civil offense to a criminal offense. So I don't feel, I feel like the slowly stripping away the government is trying to slowly strip away or basic rights as, as, as a nomadic people. And the fact that they're stripping that away, you know, and, and they get away with it. It doesn't bode well for the future, you know, because the stripping away a heritage district stripping away a culture that's been here for hundreds of years and the slowly tried to dismantle and eradicate it. You know? So for the future, there's not much hope for the future, but like I said, if I could just change one person's mind, you know, that they can go on and they can treat another traveler who you can meet on the road. You can treat them with with a bit more respect, a bit more on the standard, then you know, that that's, that's just a bonus to me. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:39:41 The final question is a variation of my usual one, which is what does being an Irish traveler mean to you? Speaker 2 00:39:46 It means everything to me, you know, it's who I am as a person. It's, it's prompt me into who I am. It's taught me what I know, you know, being a traveler has led me down the road that I have traveled. And that's led me towards where I am now with my children. You know, and as a travel department, if I wouldn't have traveled person, I, I wouldn't have all these experiences. You know, I wouldn't be able to try and make a difference, you know, because I think, I think if I, if I didn't experience everything I've experienced, then if I was born at <inaudible>, I'd probably just be the same. And then just believe the stereotypes and look in the newspaper and follow the hatred, you know, because the media, the influence people see the media as gospel. So what the media says is true, the newspapers and the news, you know, they don't take the time to get to know who those people. So I think if there's one thing I want people to take away from this is don't see hoes as, as, as a stereotypes, open your mind, you know, clear your mind, all these things that you expect those to be, and, and get to know as people as individuals, because that's what we are. We're a community, but we're a community of individuals. We're not all the same. We're not how much of this, you know, get to know hoses. People Speaker 1 00:40:56 You've been listening to the plastic podcasts with me, Doug Giovanni, and my guest, Chris MacDonald, the pedestal was provided by Lorraine Mar and music like Jack and find out more about www.plasticpodcasts.com. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, or email the plastic [email protected] The fasting podcast is a production of the plastic projects.

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