Wicklow Travellers’ Group is a voluntary community development organization that is comprised of Travellers and members of the majority population. The group is committed to achieving human rights for Irish Travellers.
The origins of Wicklow Travellers’ Group (WTG) can be traced to the work of Sister Caitriona Geraghty O.P. with an ad hoc group of Travellers in 1992 to respond to the accommodation needs of Travellers on the roadside in Co. Wicklow. Initially, this group’s core activities related to supporting a group of 17 Traveller families in securing accommodation through the courts.
Parallel with this work, a group of approximately 20 or so Traveller women began to meet regularly in Wicklow Town. This group of women identified a need for training and development opportunities for Traveller women in the area. In 1993, a part-time training programme for Traveller women was developed as an element of WTG’s basic commitment to community development with Travellers in the Wicklow.
The training was successful and resulted in the need to expand the range of training and activities throughout the 1990’s and beyond. It was necessary therefore to form a legal entity to ensure the sustainability of the project. Wicklow Travellers’ Group Limited was incorporated in May 1996. This structure enabled the group to seek funding to pursue longer term dreams and goals of the organization through seeking a permanent Traveller dedicated centre which would focus on community development, training and second chance education opportunities.
The Centre of Education and Resourcing Travellers (CEART) became the realization of the goal. Sister Caitriona and the Domincan Sisters played a vital role in bringing this about. The substantial investment by the Sisters was complemented by grants and from Department of Social Community and Family Affairs, Wicklow Working Together, Area Development Management and a donation from People in Need. The work on the CEART building was completed in 2000.
Initially, the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs (DSCFA) provided a small grant towards community development activities. This funding provided the opportunity for WTG to engage in a needs assessment and planning process and a community development plan was submitted to the DSCFA in 2001. This application was successful and core funding for a community development project under the Government’s Community Development Programme was granted to WTG in 2001.
The community development plan, which now guides the work and activities of the organisation, outlines a number of community development goals and objectives that are prioritised and provide a clear focus for the organisation. These are accommodation, health, employment, education, youth and children and the C.E.A.R.T (Centre of Education and Resourcing Travellers).
Board of Directors
Isobel O’Duffy (Chairperson), Jennifer Gahan (Assistant Chairperson), Fiona Creedon (Company Secretary), Elaine Casey (Treasurer), Ian Daly (Assistant Treasurer), Brendan Hyland, Conor Kirwan, Helen Duffy, Bess Van Sleeuwen, Kathleen Snell, Mary O’Brien