Earlier this month, National Traveller Mental Health Day was marked with a celebration of Mass at Knock Shrine, Co Mayo. During their Autumn General Meeting in Maynooth, Bishops received a report from their Commission on Social Issues and International Affairs that gave an account of an enlightening meeting with representatives of the Archdiocese of Dublin’s Parish of the Travelling People, on aspects of community life, including their deep faith, devotion to prayer and the sacraments, as well as culture.
Bishops said it was totally unacceptable that Travellers experience racism, discrimination and dangers on a daily basis in Ireland, and that it was most regrettable that this situation often forces young Travellers to hide their own identity. Bishops asked all Catholics to show solidarity with Travelling people and to work for change of attitude in society to enable Travellers participate more fully in the life of the community – including the faith community – and to encourage a greater respect for Traveller identity and its unique culture.
Bishops were also advised of the high level of mental health problems and large number of suicides among Travelling people, specifically, that the suicide rate of young Traveller men is seven times higher than in the settled community. Concern too was raised at the high proportion of Travellers in the prison system in Ireland, and about the volume of financial resources returned to the exchequer relating to projects to assist Travellers, particularly on housing, due to third party objections and other systemic blockages.
Bishops thanked the priests, religious, and many parish and other voluntary groups, for their continued support and solidarity with the Travelling community. Bishops expressed their deep gratitude to the Parish of the Travelling People for its significant contribution to the Synodal Pathway, and look forward to close collaboration into the future.