Irish Traveller organisation Pavee Point has much to cheer today, after watching staff member and Traveller sportsman John Collins carry the Olympic Torch through Dublin this morning.
John, 23, is a keen Gaelic footballer and a Traveller representative on the Anti-Racism committee of the Gaelic Athletic Association. Within Pavee Point he co-ordinates efforts on men’s health.
Speaking just before the flame was transferred to his torch, John expressed his pride on being asked to carry the flame for his whole community.
“I’m thinking of the great Traveller sportspeople who have been proud to represent Ireland and our community– and we wish John Joe Nevin and all our other Irish Athletes the best of luck London. I can hardly express how proud I am to be here and to have this opportunity.”
Today also marks the graduation of the first Traveller doctor in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
We commend the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland for this on-going initiative they took in developing this programme for Traveller inclusion, and for their support to other Travellers undertaking study there. The affirmative action programme provides opportunities for already promising Traveller students to study at the RCSI and it is intended to address the anomaly of so few Travellers working in the health service. It also challenges broader society to recognise that when Travellers are afforded positive action opportunities, they are ready to meet the challenge.
Martin Collins, Pavee Point Co-director, said:
“It’s hoped that with this graduation, the message can go out to Travellers that the highest level of education is open , when appropriate supports are put in place. With the proper supports and encouragement we can achieve anything — that’s why it’s so important that this programme and others like it can be continued and promoted.”
“It seems a pity that just when Travellers are making such breakthroughs, supports in the primary and secondary education system are being removed, such as the visiting teachers service, school transport and other supports. It’s imperative these are protected for the future.”