Opposition to Irish travellers’ halting sites in the republic of Ireland: Realistic group conflict or symbolic politics?

Joel S. Fetzer, Pepperdine University


Widely reviled by even well-educated citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Travellers rank at the very bottom of today’s multiracial Irish society according to most any attitudinal measure. This research note uses multivariate ordinary least-squares regression of the 2007 Irish National Election Study to test two prominent explanations of such prejudice. Overall, data analysis confirms the theories of realistic group conflict and symbolic politics about equally. In particular, unemployment, occupation, and perceptions of crime support the first interpretation, while results for conservatism and multiculturalism lend credence to the second.