Why it’s good to talk
WHEN most who live far from family homes return for Christmas, all that usually is required is that their loved ones see it as a time of joy, and make the beds in the old rooms, put the decorations up, and stock the fridge.
Things are a little different in Rathkeale, Co. Limerick. There, an armed Garda unit will be deployed. Special courts will sit if needed. A new CCTV system will be in place, and a triage clinic set up to deal with injuries. The measures have been taken because of the annual return of many families from the Traveller community to the area. This is not necessary when it comes to others, and while even discussing the topic is unpalatable to many, it is a conversation we must have.
The security measures are not born of malice or prejudice, but of experience. Indeed, most would see them as admirable preparation based on past events.
Unfortunately, even attempting to have the debate is so instantly, erroneously and lazily dismissed as racism, it makes genuine dialogue between the settled and Traveller communities more difficult.
All sides need to accept there are challenges to be addressed and difficulties in how to deal with them. Talking about the issues involved and how to mitigate the potential for trouble is a great deal more mature than name-calling that gets us nowhere.