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Irish society improving in terms of tolerance and equality, but Traveller and Roma exclusion still an issue

A new report notes that tolerance is increasing in Ireland, but states that issues still persist around integration.

File photo of Traveller children protesting outside Leinster House in 2015.
File photo of Traveller children protesting outside Leinster House in 2015.
Image: RollingNews.ie

IRISH SOCIETY IS demonstrating an increasing tolerance and inclusion for marginalised groups, but issue still persist around the integration of people from Traveller and Roma backgrounds. 

That’s according the latest Council of Europe report on Ireland’s implementation of the legally binding Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which is published today. 

The report notes that tolerance is increasing in Ireland, but states that issues still persist around integration.

The report finds that Traveller communities in Ireland continue to experience discrimination in employment, housing, education and the provision of health services.

Ireland voluntarily signed up to the convention in 1995 and ratified it in 1999. 

Minority populations 

The latest report notes some of the positive moves made by Ireland in terms of integration and inclusion.

It points to the State’s recognition of Travellers as a minority ethnic group in March 2017 as demonstrating an important evolution in how Travellers are perceived by Irish society as a whole. 

As well as this, the adoption of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021 is also seen as positive. Issues persist, however, around the lack of specific implementation plans and an allocation of resources, as well as monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. 

The report points to concerns around the level of discrimination faced by Travellers in their daily lives. This includes:

  • Exclusion from the jobs market 
  • Poor accommodation conditions
  • A high level of illiteracy 
  • Disproportionately high health issues 

The report also states that research pointing to underspends across local authorities for Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) was “particularly disturbing”.

Recommendations

The report recommends that the State adopt an implementation plan, in close cooperation with Traveller and Roma communities, for key measures within the national inclusion strategy. 

It also recommends that the State launch campaigns to combat discrimination faced by Traveller and Roma communities; that Travellers facing discrimination in pubs have an improved access to justice to help solve issues; and support is given for Travellers efforts to preserve and develop their identities and cultures. 

In response to the report, the Irish Government said that it “continues to be conscious of the importance of safeguarding the rights of minorities such as the Traveller and Roma communities”.

“It recognises the continuing vulnerability of those minorities and the need for targeted responses to address issues arising for those minorities which are often complex and multi-faceted.”

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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