Hooded child armed with a slash-hook appears in 'call-out' video

Hooded child armed with a slash-hook appears in 'call-out' video
A screenshot from the video

Traveller advocates have expressed deep concern about the appearance of a child, wearing a balaclava and armed with a slash-hook, issuing violent threats in a so-called 'call-out’ video.

They have appealed for calm on both sides and called on social media giants to do more to "take-down" such videos which they say incite violence.

The child, believed to be a young teenager, appears in one of a series of tit-for-tat clips which have been posted online as part of an ongoing feud involving members of the McCarthy family and the Stokes family, in Cork.

Masked men on both sides have threatened to bomb halting sites, chop off heads and slaughter women and children.

The Cork Traveller Visibility Group (TVG) and Pavee Point both condemned the clips, and the appearance of the child in one of them.

TVG said it is liaising with gardaí and Tusla on the issue.

TVG also said it has requested support from the Traveller Mediation Service, which provides trained mediators to intervene in such disputes, in a bid to ease tensions between the two sides.

"It is appalling that a child has been socialised by older men to think that violence and inflicting harm on others is acceptable," Pavee Point’s Martin Collins said.

"Violence is not the answer, it is never the answer.

There are no winners in this. You might win a battle today but you will lose tomorrow.

"Families are being destroyed, children are being uprooted, caravans and homes are being destroyed, people are being injured and some are losing their lives.

"And this kind of call-out video reinforces the stereotype that all Travellers are violent."

He called on social media groups to react faster when such videos appear online.

And while there might be an element of bravado in some of the videos, he said it’s important that such threats are taken seriously.

But he said the culture of avoiding shame, of defending a family’s honour "at all costs" must be programmed out of the Traveller community.

"It is a warped way of thinking, of looking at the world. We need to bring order on the whole community - not just on individual families," he said.

TVG said it has offered its services and support to the families involved.

"Mediation has worked in the past and we are trying to work on mediation again but it is difficult with the current travel restrictions,” a spokesperson said.

She said such call-out videos are not part of Traveller tradition and have emerged alongside the development of social media.

Gardaí are aware of the videos and rising tensions and have stepped up patrols around the Spring Lane halting site and in Hollyhilll in recent days.

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