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#Elections2019: Traveller activist vows to continue his campaigning work

Activist TJ Hogan

A Traveller activist who ran in the local elections in Cork city plans to continue his campaigning work despite failing to win a seat.

TJ Hogan, 24, from Farranree, a candidate in the Cork North West local electoral area, was eliminated on the fifth count today after polling 246 votes.

He said he doesn't view his campaign as a failure and has learned a vast amount about how the political system works.

"I have been advocating since I was 14 years of age and it’s not going to stop. I want to make change regardless of how that comes about," he said.

"I don’t want to get a big head but I do have a lot of support.

"If people want to have a conversation with me about what I’ve done, I’m open to that.

"I think the more we can learn from each other - both in the settled community and the Traveller community - then the more we can progress.

"My daughter Emily-Rose is nine months old and she is my inspiration.

"And my wife is pregnant again as we are due in August - a little boy - so my family is growing.

But we have to have a country that wants to grow with them. That’s my motivation.

A National Traveller Pride award-winner for his educational achievements, TJ completed a BA degree in Community Development in Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) in 2016.

Speaking a seminar in Cork at the time on the barriers facing Travellers accessing third level education, TJ said he wanted to help shape social policy.

He decided last December to run for election but his campaign was interrupted when his grandmother was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

But he said she asked him on her deathbed to continue his campaign.

"She was very proud of what I was doing," he said.

"I had to grieve and family had to come first for a while so I focused on my family and then after a few weeks I decided to join the race again."

He ran his campaign on a shoestring - with just a handful of posters and leaflets - relying mostly on social media and knocking on doors.

I got a fantastic response - we knocked on doors in Farranree, Knocknaheeny, Rathpeacon, Killeens and Blackpool.

"We didn’t reach everyone but we had a fair shot at it anyway," he said.

"I made it very clear that I wasn’t making promises - the only thing that I promised them was I wasn’t going to sit in the chamber and be quiet and I think that was very welcomed on the doorstep.

"I had a very good social media platform behind me and a lot of people know who I am, where I come from, my background, my family.

"A lot of people know what I’ve done. I do a lot of voluntary work in the education sector.

"People know who I am and what I’m about and they know that I just want to fight for the right thing.

"I became a father for the first last August and there is absolutely nothing in this country for young travellers.

"They either have to leave education when they get to a certain level, or they're gone because they don't have the jobs here.

"And if they do get a job, it’s poorly paid and they’re being squeezed.

"And the suicide rate amongst young Traveller men is seven times higher (than the rate in the settled community) and five times higher for women and it’s one in four across the board and that’s not acceptable.

"The future for young Travellers is very bleak in this country at the moment under the current government, both local and national, and I want to change that eventually."

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