It was with great interest, then, that I watched a story to do with two feuding families in the Mitchel's Crescent area of Tralee on RTE's nine o'clock news this evening. The words 'feuding' and 'family' immediately set off alarm bells and, quietly confident of what I would would find, I threw a few relevant details into the search engine. Sure enough, my prejudices - because, indeed, that is what there were - were confirmed.
A story from the Kerryman - for whatever reason, provincial papers tend to be less politically correct - detailed how eleven people involved in a feud between two Traveller families in the same area were charged for threatening behaviour, possession of weapons and breach of previous bail conditions. Now, that these two stories do not relate to the same on-going feud ranks as about as likely as Michael Bay winning the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
So, why then did RTE decide to leave out the identity of families? No doubt, their rationale would be that being a Traveller or otherwise is of no relevance to the story. But considering the continuing problem of high-profile feuds between Travellers, is it really not in the public interest to know? Considering that a Traveller male is around17 times more likely to spend time in jail than a member of the general population, is being a Traveller really an irrelevant piece of information in a news report?
Are RTE really trying to avoid the furthering of prejudice, or are they actually just contributing to a culture of silence around the problems associated with the Traveller lifestyle? How can we ever address the failures of the Traveller lifestyle - and there are many - if the media prevents us from knowing the magnitude of the problem?
How can there be debate when we are too afraid to speak?