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South Dublin County Council votes to recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority

Francis Timmons proposed the motion, describing it as “one of Ireland’s biggest human rights issues”.

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

SOUTH DUBLIN COUNTY Council has voted to recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority.

The motion was put forward by Independent councillor Francis Timmons, who said recognising Travellers as an ethnic minority is one “one of Ireland’s biggest human rights issues”.

Timmons told the council that Travellers suffer “exclusion, restriction and discrimination based on their ethnic origin”.

“The Travelling community has a rich culture that should be cherished and shared.”

He called on the Government to act quickly on its promise of introducing Traveller ethnicity.

In November, Aodhán Ó Riordáin, the Minister of State for Equality, said it would become a reality in the coming months.

At the time, he said Travellers “satisfy the standard legal and sociological criteria for recognition as an ethnic group and have received such recognition in the UK”.

The reality is that a Traveller in Dundalk has no ethnic recognition, whereas a Traveller in Newry does despite being mere minutes apart from each other. Granting ethnicity status to Irish Travellers will provide legal clarity on the issue and is in line with various requests made by National Traveller Organisations over the last two decades.

According to the 2011 Census, there are about 30,000 Travellers in Ireland.

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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