Broad welcome from Traveller and human rights groups to recommendation

TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who has campaigned for Traveller ethnic recognition, said it was rare that he came into Leinster House really proud of the work done there

Brigid Quilligan,  director of the Irish Traveller Movement, said: “This is the strongest statement we as a community have ever had since the formation of the State”

Brigid Quilligan, director of the Irish Traveller Movement, said: “This is the strongest statement we as a community have ever had since the formation of the State”

Fri, Apr 18, 2014, 02:12


There has been broad welcome from Traveller and human rights groups to the recommendation Travellers be recognised as an ethnic minority. This was, however, tempered with a recognition of widespread antipathy among many in the settled community to Travellers.

Welcoming the report, Brigid Quilligan, “a Traveller woman from Killarney” and director of the Irish Traveller Movement, said she was usually well able to speak.

“But I have to say today I am stuck for words. Every time I think about this I have a lump in my throat. This is momentous. This is the strongest statement we as a community have ever had since the formation of the State. We know the value of our community.” However, she said, “anti-Travellerism” had hardened in recent years.

Thomas McCann, member of the Traveller representative group Minceirs Whidden, welcomed the “important” report but said an anti-Traveller mindset remained in many local authorities. “It has to be said that that mindset is no longer acceptable.”

Maria Joyce from the National Traveller Women’s Forum said it was “not easy to find the right words to express how we feel, now we have a document that makes a clear recommendation that Travellers should be recognised as an ethnic minority.”

David Joyce, a Traveller and acting chairman of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said: “Recognition of ethnicity . . . will bring Ireland in line with its human rights and equality obligations.”

Labour Party TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who has campaigned for Traveller ethnic recognition, said it was rare that he came into Leinster House really proud of the work done there.