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Council of Europe report finds continuing difficulties for Irish Travellers

The Council of Europe report expresses concern about discrimination against Travellers in accessing the labour market.

Hundreds of Travellers gathered outside Leinster House at an anti-racism protest last month.
Hundreds of Travellers gathered outside Leinster House at an anti-racism protest last month.
Image: Pearse Corcoran via Twitter

A NEW REPORT from the Council of Europe – the body set up to monitor compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights – has expressed concern about the continuing difficulties faced by the Traveller community in Ireland.

The report, published this afternoon (PDF), finds that Travellers are still facing discrimination in seeking to access the labour market, resulting in very high levels of unemployment within the community.

It also expressed reservations about the continually high drop-out rate from education, and that as of 2010, 444 Traveller families were living in “precarious” conditions on unauthorised sites – which it says is because some local authorities don’t have the political will to provide ‘suitable solutions’.

The report also criticises Ireland for not renewing its National Action Plan against Racism, and for cutting funding for the Equality Authority by almost 50 per cent.

The report encourages the Constitutional Convention to address some of the concerns expressed by Travellers by enhancing human rights and anti-discrimination provisions.

The CoE report is broadly positive and acknowledges Ireland’s overall commitment to pursuing strong equality legislation, but warns that plans to merge the Irish Human Rights Commission with the Equality Authority should be considered very carefully.

It recommends taking urgent action to address “the de facto exclusion of Travellers from the labour market” and that the Government “continue to involve Travellers and Roma, as appropriate, in the work of all relevant consultative mechanisms” at local and national levels.

The Irish government’s response to the report’s findings, which has also been published by the Council of Europe (PDF), outlines that Ireland has not yet decided on whether to recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority.

“Consideration of this issue remains ongoing with a view to ensuring that full analysis of all aspects of the granting of ethnic status to Travellers is available to Government when coming to a decision on the matter,” Ireland said.

Read: Hundreds of Travellers outside Dáil for anti-racism protest

Column: Denying Traveller ethnicity makes Ireland a rogue state

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Gavan Reilly

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