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Government supports Bill on including Traveller culture and history in education

Education Minister Norma Foley said “much remains to be done” in creating a more inclusive and supportive education system.

File image of Education Minister Norma Foley.
File image of Education Minister Norma Foley.
Image: MAXWELLS DUBLIN

A BILL ON Traveller culture and history in education will be supported by the government, the Education Minister Norma Foley confirmed in the Dáil last night. 

The proposed legislation calls for the Education Act to include a provision about promoting a “knowledge and understanding of the culture and history of the Traveller community”.  

The Irish Traveller Movement welcomed the government’s support for the Bill, describing it as a “further step towards the meaningful inclusion of Traveller History and Culture in the school curriculum”.

The Bill will now be put forward to the Education Committee for consideration. 

It had originally been brought forward by former Senator Colette Kelleher in 2018 and was put forward yesterday by Independent TD Tomas Pringle. 

Senator Eileen Flynn, the first female Traveller in the Oireachtas, said in a statement that the Bill “can and must lead to meaningful representation for Travellers in Irish education”.  

Pringle and Flynn said the Bill as it stands does not guarantee the inclusion intended will happen in practice, saying there is “much work to do at committee stage”. 

“Understanding Traveller history and culture as part of Ireland’s story is valuable for all learners and will substantially help to combat racism, discrimination and othering,” Pringle said in the Dáil. 

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Minister Foley said the government will support the Bill, adding that it “provides an opportunity to recognise the unique position of Traveller culture and history within the overall Irish context”. 

“In recent decades, progress has been made in creating an education system that is more inclusive and supportive, including for Traveller children and young people,” Foley said.

This being said, I recognise that much remains to be done and the sheer fact of this Bill being brought before the House today highlights this.

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