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Abstract

This paper is one in a series of three papers viewing aspects of native cultures and, in this instance, will primarily define the Traveller population in Ireland, give a brief history of this population whilst discussing racism and some of its implications. There will be a particular focus on current systems of health, education and child protection in order to determine Traveller experiences of these key child and youth care related service providers in Ireland. The second paper will focus upon an examination of the experiences of aboriginal people in Canada. It will have a particular emphasis upon the marginization of aboriginal children and youth within the dominant culture. The third paper will be a comparison of the issues experienced by Traveller and Canadian aboriginal populations in terms of the helping systems. Although the culture/lifestyle of Irish Travellers is very well researched nationally, this commentary analysis seeks to provide North American readers with an introduction to Irish Travellers. However, it does so in the context of unity and diversity given that Ireland is fast approaching becoming a multi-cultural society. What is unique about the Traveller position in Irish society as opposed to other ethnic minorities is that Travellers, although native to Ireland, have a distinct but intertwined cultural history with that of the Settled population in Ireland. Although the gauntlet of unity and diversity is socially thrown down, the practical application of this through child and youth care institutions advocating multiculturalism is not being adequately achieved. The Traveller population continues to experience a social reality of marginalisation and discrimination, which has particular implications for Traveller youth and children as it defines the parameters of their socialisation.

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