Traveller ethnicity pressure mounting
The Government is under pressure from politicians across the political parties and campaigners to recognise Traveller ethnicity.
Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has scrapped the idea of going his own way and tabling a Private Members Bill on the issue, instead working with Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Travellers groups to persuade the Government to introduce its own law.
He said he had a “good meeting” recently with Minister for Justice Alan Shatter on the issue. The Oireachtas justice committee would next month hold hearings on the issue and he also hoped the Minister would meet Travellers who could describe the importance of the recognition of their ethnicity.
“I feel we’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” said Mr Mac Lochlainn, whose mother and grandmother were Travellers. “Sinn Féin and Labour are on board and there are a number of Fine Gael Senators and TDs who are certainly very positive.”
Senator Martin Conway, Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesman on equality and disability, said he was also behind the move.
“I think the Minister would be favourably disposed to this . . . it will be a powerful step if there is cross-party support,” he said.
Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said she was also behind the Bill.
Mr Ó Ríordáin said there could be cost implications in recognising Travellers’ ethnicity but that “equality costs money”.
There is also opposition to the recognition of Traveller ethnicity. Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan wrote in The Irish Times last month the move was “misguided and dangerous”. “