nly by their fellow Irishman but by Irish institutions, the result of which has been the perpetuation of the perception of the group as a negative influence on the culture.
Evidence of this is clear in the way the group identifies itself as opposed to how others identify them. While Travellers call themselves pavees, they are often referred to by their fellow Irishman as pikeys, knackers and gypos—all highly derogatory terms essentially shorthand for pickpockets and thieves. A visitor to Ireland might hear them called “tinkers,” a seemingly benign term but also derogatory in that according to Irish legend tinkers, or tinsmiths were on some level involved in the making the cross of Christ. The actual designation, however, may have more to do with the fact that Travellers to present move from town to town selling and repairing pots among other occupations. Hedican (2000) in his review of Heilleiner writes, “The origins of the Irish Travellers ...are... obscure” (p.1). Using history as a guide, Hedican (2000), as do other scholars, suggests, “One origin myth sees them as the remnants of Irish nobles thrown off their estates by the Cromwellian purge of Irish landed aristocracy...Another account traces their origins to the Great Famine of the late 1840s” (p. 1). Countering the latter theory, legend and history traces the potential origins of the group as far back as pre-Celtic minstrels. Since Travellers have no written history, it is impossible to say, and the debate continues. Though much of what is said and known is peripheral, scholarly studies present clear evidence regarding how and why these nomadic people have come to be singled out in their country, and also the part which racism, in all its forms, plays in that exclusion.
In 2005 the United Nations, concerned about Irish institutional and government policies regarding Travellers, demanded an accounting from the government to the International Covenant for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial