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Half of Irish people don't want Travellers to have ethnic status

About one in three people would support such a move.

8/6/2016. Dublin. GPO, O'Connell Street. Re-Proclama An event last week celebrating Travellers' roles in the 1916 Rising. Source: Derek Speirs/RollingNews.ie

HALF OF IRISH people don’t want Travellers to be recognised as an ethnic minority.

Some 52% of people surveyed in a recent opinion poll are not in favour of the move, while 33% support it and 15% are not sure.

The findings are contained in a Claire Byrne Live/Amárach Research poll for TheJournal.ie that was carried out in May (1,000 adults were surveyed nationwide).

In our TD survey on the same topic, just over half of deputies replied – 80 out of 158.

The vast majority of TDs who responded want Travellers to be recognised as an ethnic minority: 65 (81%), while four (5%) don’t, six don’t know and five replied without giving a definitive answer.

Travellers’ rights groups have been calling for the community to receive ethnic status for some time, saying it is needed to end discrimination against members and improve their living conditions.

28/10/2015. Travellers Issues Protests Children at a Travellers' rights protest outside Leinster House in October 2015. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Last month the United Nations called on Ireland “to conduct and finalise a timely review of the request for recognition of the Travellers as an ethnic group”.

Back in April 2014, the Oireachtas Justice Committee, after examining evidence by various stakeholders, called on the state to recognise Traveller ethnicity.

However, not everyone agreed with the stance taken by the committee and believe a strong enough case has not been made for Traveller ethnicity to be granted. Others also think it would further separate them from other members of society and, as such, create a greater divide.

Opinion poll

In the public opinion poll, women are slightly more in favour of members of the Travelling community being granted ethnic status: 37%, compared to 29% of men.

Younger people are slightly more likely to be in favour of it, with 40% of 18-25 year olds supporting the issue, compared to 32% of 25-34 year olds, 31% of 35-44 year olds, 27% of 45-54 year olds and 35% of people over the age of 55.

trav poll

Geography didn’t have a huge effect on people’s answers, but people in Dublin (37%) and Munster (38%) are more in favour of ethnicity than those in Connacht or Ulster (25%) and Leinster excluding Dublin (29%).

A new National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2016-2020 is currently being prepared in consultation with relevant stakeholders. It will look at a number of areas including ethnicity, and access to healthcare, education and housing. The document is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Read: We asked every TD if they want Travellers recognised as an ethnic minority – here’s what they said

Read: People are divided on the Eighth Amendment, but half want it repealed

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Órla Ryan

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