There is truth in that. First off as I’ve said before I agree with Casey that travelers aren’t an ethnic minority, they’re defined more by their economic status within society. The whole ethnic thing is a sham that I’m not sure they themselves fully ascribe too, it’s more the identity politics of settled people.
The itinerant worker (tinker) was a part of the Irish rural economy right up until the 70s, I can still remember the last of the seasonal travellers parking up at my grandmothers house at a specific time every year. I think somewhere in the 1880s a seasonal itinerant married in and so a familial link was maintained. Granddad had been a farrier and they’d come to him. The last of the annual tinkers were very elderly then, but still got around with an ass drawn carriage, I was always excited when they came. I remember seeing Wonderly Wagon on TV and thinking how silly it was compared to the real thing.
The year they stopped coming my grandmother looked out the window waiting for months after they’d been due. I guess that was the end of that way of life when that seasonal economy finally ended. When my mother was really sick we had a traveller woman look after us while my father worked. When my mother was better I wanted to go visit the traveler woman who minded us but one day we turned up and the caravan had moved on. As a child I felt bereft. I have nothing but warm fond memories of her kindness. For me them = us.
Even up til its closure 50% of the scrap metal taken in at the Irish Steel works in Cork was from travelers. There is no doubt that there are some who use the transience of the traveler life as a cover for criminal activity, but it’s also unfair to tar (pardon the pun) those who try to retain their economic tradition peacefully as it was the bedrock of their familial life. Settled travellers have transitioned to modern agriculture and if you’re ever on the Canterbury Plains in New Zealand during the harvest campaign you’ll meet loads of settled Irish travellers subcontracted in for a good few months each year. To some locals girls snagging one of these jetsetters is a prize catch! Plus Trotting which is like sulky racing is a popular mainstream sport there! Don’t be so quick to assume all their new cars are gifts of the state or crime. Some travellers have swapped the ass and carriage for transcontinental airplanes.
Ironically thanks to commuting while the travellers are settling, the settled are travelling! I might even settle down some decade soon. It seems very frivolous to laud Casey for saying what’s been said all the time. Their traditional economy was part of our economy, some adapted, others struggled and some failed. But we can’t blame them for the failure of their economy, imagine how we’d cope if our way of life suddenly withdrew from us.