Government urged to restate commitment to Traveller inclusion

Representative groups say changes have been hard-won as new funding announced

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris on Sunday announced €300,000 in funding to support students from the Traveller community. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris on Sunday announced €300,000 in funding to support students from the Traveller community. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

 

Traveller representatives are calling on the Government to restate its commitment to the national inclusion strategy for the Traveller and Roma communities.

The organisations say they have seen only “incremental and hard fought-for changes” since Travellers were formally recognised as a minority ethnic group four years ago on Monday.

In June 2017, a few months after then-taoiseach Enda Kenny announced formal recognition for Travellers in the Dáil, the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy was published. It set out 149 actions covering themes such as education, health, employment and economic development.

Though it was flagged as a four-year strategy, just 12 of these actions have been completed, Traveller representatives say.

Work on a majority of actions is ongoing, while 10 have yet to start. Representative groups, including the Irish Traveller Movement, Pavee Point and the National Traveller Women’s Forum, are concerned about the pace of the rollout and are critical that responsibility for seeing the pledges through has been spread across Government departments.

They are calling for a dedicated, “fully resourced” unit to ensure the strategy is properly implemented. There must also be a “targeted and specific response” to the “widespread discrimination” against Travellers from sections of Irish society, they say.

The groups say “urgent action” is required to help realise the educational ambitions of young Travellers, with just one in five Travellers completing secondary school compared to 92 per cent of non-Travellers.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris on Sunday announced €300,000 in funding to support students from the Traveller community. The grants can be used for technological supports, to improve study spaces and access to wifi, or to mitigate any caring responsibilities.