Machetes, car rammings, and armed Gardaí dispatched to patrol the streets of a rural town, the all too predictable goings on in Rathkeale have led to us all rolling our eyes as yet again traveller violence bleeds out into the open.
The only accepted prejudice partially allowed in polite society, because it is the most blatant, shenanigans erupted between rival gangs which have found themselves increasingly at each other’s throats the past month. Forewarned by a weapons seizure, slash hook attacks and shots fired at a rival’s car, Monday night saw confrontations across the town involving the ramming of cars and brandishing of weapons resulting in the town being partially sealed off and the arrival of Garda armed units.
Transpiring in a town roughly 50% traveller per unreliable census results, the flareup begs certain questions at a time the country at large is experiencing rapid demographic change and is flirting with the idea of an United Ireland through reunification with the North and embrace of Ulster loyalists.
What place do Travellers hold in an increasingly diverse and in many cases post-Irish Ireland?
Something of a token minority before the arrival of large scale non-European migration, travellers (or at least their handlers) have carved themselves a partial niche in the diversity stakes through a series of NGOs, partial use of the race card when it comes to media omerta on traveller criminality and additional leeway having been declared an ethnic minority in 2017.
With mincéirs consisting of just 0.7% of the Republic’s population, this did little to stop the brief but meteoric rise of Peter Casey so great an animus exists against them in the Irish mainstream.
While they have rates of criminality comparable to Somalian pirates on a looting spree, the Rathkeale travellers are so cash rich they have engaged in a two decades long acquisition spree of the town gradually tightening the screws of the diminishing settled community. In short, travellers have all the appearances of being a well oiled ethnic mafia muscling in on a naive progressive society.
While pavees reap some of the dividends from the racial grievance game, this has not stopped such figures like John Connors being thrown under the bus when they crossed the line and bite the hand that fed them.
Ridden by clannishness, intense religiosity, homophobia and inordinate amounts of criminality, one suspects this fleeting golden age of traveller institutional power could very well be ending.
Minus the existence of racial grievance groups, travellers from the 90s onward could tap into their minority status and accrue enough institutional brownie points in the public square. With the new arrival of non-European groupings they simply become eclectic Irish people with a variety of reactionary hangups making them unfavourable in the eyes of progressives.
Diversity calculus is a cruel game and it is not impossible that progressive opinion may relegate Irish travellers to our equivalent of American white trash once they invariably begin to clash with liberal orthodoxy or even other grievance groups.
Bluntly speaking, there are no traveller sympathetic demographics within the spectrum of public opinion with even anti-racists quietly holding their nose to champion the tinker cause. In the field of ethnic politics, travellers are more sinning than sinner against actively tormenting those of especially lower incomes and the rural elderly and more often than not being ostentatiously wealthy through ill gotten gains.
All things aside, even with this potential schism on the cards, travellers may very well have a bright future ahead of them in an era of atomisation and general decline of the Irish state.
The ability to form and maintain ethnic mafias, underground criminal networks and to exist outside of an increasingly sterile and regimented society may be the saving grace of pavees as is their handicap.
By the current demographic trajectory the Ireland of 2040 and beyond will be a far sight different than that of the Celtic Tiger which heralded mass migration, complete with minority majority towns and counties, the probable institutional collapse of the 26 county state and the realpolitik of a botched United Ireland.
By their sheer criminality and inability to conform to settled society travellers will exist as an outlier to the meatgrinder of the modern world. The bluster of WEF technocrats may matter very little in the halting sites of Ireland, always outside the state. Without doubt crippled by their own demons and poor physical health, their villainous mindset may very well enable them to prosper in a rather perverse way.
Rathkeale exists almost as a little slice of Bosnia in East Limerick, complete with ethnic cleansing, a patchwork of warring tribes and near constant street level savagery, in essence a warning from the mid 21st century as to what happens when homogenous societies are undermined and shattered.
When Rome fell it was otherwise irrelevant tribes that were able to navigate the post-imperial landscape best and who went on to form the genetic future of European civilisation. As it stands travellers with their semi-nomadic ways look set to at least survive the coming century while us deracinated Irish seek to replicate the path of lead pipe using patricians of the second century on the way towards ethnic oblivion.
Whatever has happened or will happen in Rathkeale is testament to the macabre reality of ignoring the living reality of group difference and a lesson in how organised ethnic communities will always outmuscle weakened ones. Travellers may not be cracking the atom any time soon but differ from Irish society in at least showing a willingness to survive and even prosper in a changing world.