Musician Finbar Furey, Minister of State for Justice David Stanton and Actor and Love/ Hate star John Connors were among guests and presenters who paid tribute yesterday to winners at the seventh Traveller Pride Awards which recognise the achievements and contributions Travellers make to their own community and to Irish society.
Among the winners on the day were a 12 year old two title world handball champion, a group of residents who created a campaign to highlight the injustice of their living conditions- an education advocate and tireless volunteer – a group of pre-teen Traveller entrepreneurs – young inspiring music makers – a first Traveller gold award Girl Guide and a group of active community workers, at the ceremony which was held in the Pillar Room, Dublin.
The winners who came from – Cork, Clare, Galway, Meath and Cavan were championed for their endeavours in Education, Arts / Culture, Music, Enterprise, Youth, Sport and Community.
Receiving the Overall award, and the award for Sport, was Mikey Kelly two title world handball champion for both under 11 singles and doubles. Speaking after receiving his awards he said:
“I feel on top of the world to win the Traveller pride award for sport.
“I am extremely proud to have competed in the 2015 World Championship as a Traveller, and to bring home to my community 4 World Champion Medals.
“My success demonstrates to the wider Irish community the skill and talent which exists amongst young Travellers”.
Residents of the Spring Lane Halting Site Cork who had mobilised to create a campaign for better accommodation and basic services at their site “branded” as one of the country’s worst halting sites, collected the award for Community.
They generated a campaign in the hope of securing better living conditions for their children, many of whom live without access to basic facilities. They were recognised by third party groups for their dedication and commitment, while displaying good spirit against great odds.
Speaking at the awards a resident Kathleen Delaney said:
“‘It’s a great achievement, I’m very proud that we got the award. Fighting for your rights can be a long road. We are still waiting for an answer from the council.
“It can wear you down, but I’ll never stop. We need to keep going until we get proper homes for our children and a proper future.”
Other well-known guest presenters and speakers who attended the lively celebration of Travellers and Traveller champions from all walks of life, included Dublin, All Ireland and GAA All Star Jack McCaffrey, RTE’s John Murray, former Senator and Children’s Rights campaigner Jillian Van Turnhout and Darren Ryan CEO Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.
The Irish Traveller Movement is the coordinator of the event which is jointly supported by eight Traveller organisations, speaking at the opening of the ceremony Director Bernard Joyce said:
“Some of this year’s winners have achieved beyond their years, others in the face of their challenging living conditions, some have achieved the “first Traveller ever” status – others early social entrepreneurs.
“Each of these winners confidently and in some cases quietly achieved or broke new ground which brought them to the attention of many and led to their nomination for these awards.
“This is now the annual flagship event allowing Travellers be separately celebrated under the banner of our unique identity, each year’s winners inspire other Travellers ploughing their particular course sometimes in spite of challenges along the way.
“Highlighting Travellers achievement to the wider community gives a clearer reflection of the diversity that exists.”
The Awards have become the flagship annual event for Travellers generating huge positivity within the community and beyond. The ceremony has attracted a diverse range of people from a across section of Irish society, both settled and Traveller, celebrity and champions who are drawn to this unique celebration where Travellers are rightly championed for the contribution and commitments they have made to local or national initiatives, their leadership qualities, role models for their peers, their commitment to Travellers’ rights and broader human rights issues, enterprise projects and excellence in music, arts or sports.
The Traveller Pride Awards is the lead event for Traveller Pride Week programme (June 6th) held annually as a “Traveller focused” space for National and regional events which reflect on issues related to Traveller’s lives.
Full list of winners:
Category: Sport and Overall winner (Galway) – Mikey Kelly
Category: Enterprise – The Skibbereen Boy’s Action Group (11-13 years) (Cork)
Category: Education – TJ Hogan – Cork
Category: Youth – Marykate Nevin – Meath
Category: Arts / Culture – The Cavan Traveller Primary Health Care Team. (Cavan)
Category: Community – The Community of Springlane Halting Site – Cork
Category: Music – Songstories / Pavee Ceoil Traveller Young People’s Music – Clare