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The Tragedy of the Irish Travelling Folk

Life expectancy of Irish Travellers still at 1940s levels . Back in the 1940s, the life expectancy of Irish Travellers was the same as that of the settled population. Now, it is 65 for men as against 75 for settled men, and 65 as against 78 for settled women. There has been no improvement in life expectancy for travellers in 20 years.

Findings show that seven in 10 travellers die before reaching the age of 59. Half die before the age of 39. In the total population, 2.6% of all deaths are for people aged under 25 years yet the figure for the Travelling community is 32%.
Such statistics put the estimated 30,000 Travelling community well outside the health norms of Irish society.

Infant mortality is 10 times higher among Travellers. 10% of children die before reaching the age of two - compared to just 1% in the general population.

Suicides are also more common than among the general population.

It follows decades of campaigns for Travellers' rights. The only possible conclusion is that these campaigns have failed. Prejudice and exclusion remain sharp, and living conditions have actually worsened. The report points to Traveller reluctance to use the State services, including hospitals. That will not end while what it calls the "begrudging" attitude of government departments continues.


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