SMTCA has been running men’s groups since 1999. The aim of this group is to give Traveller men the opportunity to participate in activities that they would not otherwise experience, either because of the cost involved or for reasons related to social exclusion. In recent years the activates of this group have included fishing trips, “paint balling”, visits to the theatre, visits to museums, computers, clay pigeon shooting and Quad biking.
Involvement in the group gives participants the skills and confidence needed to plan participate and evaluate the various activities and through this become more involved in the development of their own community. Another aim of the Men’s Group is to foster good relationships between Travellers in the Ballymun area. There are a number of separate Traveller family groupings living in the Ballymun area and the Men’s Group helps to bring men from different family groupings together in an environment where they can interact and build up positive relationships.
While the group is primarily activity-based, we are always looking for ways to broaden the scope of the group, with some success. Over the years we have provided access to information and advice on enterprise development and setting up a business. We have provided or organised training in computers, literacy, truck driving, fork lift driving and the “safe pass”. They have been involved in the residents’ group and activities campaigning against Dublin City Council plans to close the site and demanding better conditions for residents of St Margaret’s Park. To help improve the conditions of the site, the men undertook a project whereby images of Christ and the Apostles were installed at the front entrance to St. Margaret’s.
The Men’s Group has also been involved in building positive relationships with the Garda Siochána. As a result of this interaction the group decided to set up an onsite outreach clinic manned by the local Garda to enable them to give advice and assistance on Garda matters, and also to develop good relations. This clinic has been in operation since September 2010 and happens once a week for one hour.
SMTCA link in with Traveller Youth Service (TYS) where appropriate in terms of Men’s Development. The aim of this initiative is to give SMTCA the opportunity to engage with young Traveller men (aged 18- 21) and involve them in positive activities that will be of benefit to them and their families.