In return, the government dropped a more serious racketeering charge, May said.

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Unfortunately, the current recession means that their situation is unlikely to improve any time in the near future.

The 2006 Census records the number of Travellers usually resident in Ireland as 23,509, though this figure has been disputed due to the manner in which the relevant question was posed.

As recently as the mid-twentieth century, Travellers played an important role in rural Ireland where they were important participants in seasonal agricultural work.

Traveller families would journey around the country, helping out on farms where they would stay on a yearly basis.

This sobering economic reality has seen them grow more isolated from mainstream Irish society and resulted in their encountering an increasing level of antipathy from settled people wherever they go. Despite the rapid increase in economic growth and wealth that Ireland experienced during the Celtic Tiger years, Travellers remained predominantly in the same impoverished condition as before.

Indeed, many travellers actually saw their economic status deteriorate.Federal prosecutor Jay Richardson is also on the case. The agreement calls for them to plead guilty to one count of “conspiracy to racketeer,” which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a 0,000 fine.Alternative calculations, using the 2002 census figure as a base, estimated that Irish Travellers probably number over 25,000 today.In terms of demographic data, it is perhaps the age profile of Travellers which is the most notable.Amongst the general population, young people between 0-14 make up 20.4 per cent of the population, while the corresponding proportion for Travellers was 41.4 per cent.