Counterpoint: Travellers

Counterpoint: Travellers

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Dungannon, Newry, West Belfast




Transmission 16/01/1992


25min 18sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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This footage contains sensitive lanuage which some users may find offensive. 

Presenter Kate Smith explores the difficulties that face the Travelling Community and the hostility they occasionally encounter from the "Settled Community". 

Beginning in Dungannon, local councillor, Alan Burke, visits a family that is living illegally in a car park and explains the consequences they face if they choose to stay. Noel Cawley says that he understands the risks but won't move until he finds a place for his family to go. The viewer is told that 30 fines have been given out over the past 5 years, though none of them have been recovered. This, argues Vincent Currie (SDLP) is evidence that the law needs to be tighter.

A way to solve this, is the idea of a site where Travellers can settle, with basic facilities provided for. However, this is still not adequate, says Patrick McDonald who cites the costs of heating a caravan in the winter and points out that all the showers and toilets are outside, not suitable for Northen Irish temperatures. Jim Canning (Independent Party), states the benefits of having a permanent site and how the Travellers are no less law abiding than the settled. 

The Department of Environment provides 100% grand aid for the Traveller site but it's up to individual councils to decide how to act. Newry, is home to another traveller site. Hugh O'Neill, Martin Ward and Kathleen Mongan speak of the poor conditions of the site and worry about children’s health. This has partly been combated by the weekly nurse clinic held within the site. 

Another issue of concern is lack of education, which is being met head on by the current playgroup on site which toddlers can attend. Stella McLoughin, the group leader says that now children are attending school regularly. Margaret Ward and Rosie Ward, both have children in the playgroup and reflect on their own education.  


Counterpoint is Ulster Television's landmark current affair series, which was also broadcast to a national audience on Channel4. Series' editor, Derek Murray described Counterpoint as addressing a "wide range of social concerns which affect every family in Ulster".


A UTV production

Directed by Alan Hailes

Produced by Tony Curry

Presented by Kate Smith 

Also contributions made by; Pat Murphy (DOVE Project), Bridget Maughan, Eamonn O'Reily, Hugh Casey, Terry Hadaway, David Calvin (DUP), Eilis Gallagher and Nan Joyce.  



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