ATU celebrates Traveller Ethnicity Day

Friday, March 01, 2024

Atlantic Technological University (ATU) celebrates Traveller Ethnicity Day today, 1 March 2024, and hosts a series of events across its campuses to recognise and honour Irish Travellers as an ethnic group, highlighting the unique culture and heritage of Irish Travellers.

Dr Orla Flynn, ATU President, welcomed the ongoing initiatives supporting the Traveller Community, reaffirming ATU's commitment to enhancing access to university education for students from the Traveller community.

"ATU is dedicated to providing Travellers with a positive and welcoming academic, social, and personal experience in higher education. With one of the highest recorded numbers of Irish Travellers accessing higher education, I wish to acknowledge the significant work of our community partners in supporting Travellers into higher education, and we look forward to continuing engagement with them."

Paddy Maughan, Traveller Health and Wellbeing Support Worker at Mayo North East SICAP, delivered an insightful address at an event at the Mayo campus, emphasising the importance of universally applying inclusion measures. He commended ATU's dedication to Traveller education, spotlighting the ongoing collaboration that resulted in developing the Certificate in Community Development Practice. 
Currently, 44 members of the Traveller Community from Mayo and Galway are enrolled in this joint initiative involving ATU, Traveller Projects, Health Service Executive (HSE), local partnership companies, and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP).

Avril Greham, a campaigner for people with disabilities, joined Paddy Maughan to launch the MA in Transformative Practices in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at ATU. This part-time blended master's program is open for applicants, with classes scheduled to commence in September 2024.

Throughout the week, ATU Traveller Education Officer Anne Marie Stokes conducted a workshop on "Get Inspired – Traveller Success Stories in Higher Education". Simultaneously, a panel discussion on Inclusivity in Employment and Education took place at the Donegal Letterkenny campus, featuring Irish Traveller and ATU lecturer in Social Care David Friel alongside Dr Lynn Ramsey, Director/CEO of Teaching Council, and Victoria Matthew. David Friel expressed the significance of Traveller Ethnicity Day, acknowledging it as a historic milestone toward equality and recognition for the community. He urged reflection, planning, and action for radical change, emphasising the day as an opportunity to celebrate Traveller culture and heritage.

ATU secured funding for specific Traveller Education initiatives under the Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH) 3 as part of the West-Northwest Cluster fund. Additionally, PATH 5 funding supports an Afterschool Programme in Donegal and taster sessions with Sligo Travellers Support Group, delivered jointly with MSLETB.

Photo caption: Anne Marie Stokes, Traveller Education Officer, marking Traveller Ethnicity Day with students from the Galway Traveller Movement who are studying Community Development Practice.