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Justice Committee says Ireland should recognise Travellers as ethnic group

A report from the committee said the Taoiseach and Justice Minister should confirm this recognition and commence dialogue with representative groups about new legislation.

A Traveller rights protest in 2009.
A Traveller rights protest in 2009.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE JUSTICE COMMITTEE has said the Taoiseach or the Minister for Justice should make a statement to Dáil Éireann confirming that Ireland recognises the ethnicity of the Travelling community.

This is in a report published by the committee today which also recommended that the government should write to the relevant international bodies, confirming the recognition.

It also recommended the government builds on these initiatives and commence a time-limited dialogue with the traveller representative groups about the new legislation or amendments to existing legislation now required.

Committee member and Sinn Féin TD Pádraig MacLochlainn said the the committee “drew upon overwhelming evidence in favour of traveller ethnicity”.

Source: oireachtasfilm/YouTube

“The recommendations outlined in this report should now be acted upon swiftly,” he continued. “It is no longer tenable for this State to deny Traveller ethnicity.”

Earlier in the Dáil, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said that that the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter needed time to read and consider the report after Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis asked if the government will commit to a timeline for recognising the ethnicity of Travellers.

Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre welcomed the publication of the report and called on Shatter to immediately act upon the recommendations.

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“It is time to stop playing politics with this issue and end this cycle of ethnicity denial,” it said. “It will be of huge symbolic importance to Travellers within Ireland and further afield.”

The centre also pointed out that the recognition has practical implications and should mean that Travellers are automatically included in all State anti-racism and inter-cultural initiatives without delay and discrimination against them should be recognised as racism.

Read: Traveller group hits out at “hate speech” Daily Mail article>

Read: Councillor accuses Travellers group of “playing politics” over Cork site>

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