Traveller youth and high unemployment highlighted in census
Last year’s survey finds 60% of community under 25, while 80% are unemployed
The 2016 census found the majority (80.2 per cent) of the 10,653 Travellers in the labour force are unemployed. Stock image: The Irish Times
More Travellers are going to college but educational attainment among their number “continues to lag significantly behind” that of the general population, the latest census figures show.
A report published by the Central Statistics Office on Thursday, which draws on data relating to ethnicity which was gathered in last year’s census, highlights the relative youth of the Traveller population as well as lower life expectancy and higher unemployment rates.
There were 30,987 Travellers resident in Ireland in April 2016, an increase of 5.1 per cent on the April 2011 figure (29,495). They were living in 8,717 households, an increase of 12.3 per cent since 2011, and were more likely than the general population to be in households of more than one family – 4.2 per cent of Traveller households were multiple-family compared with 1.3 per cent in the wider population.
Almost 60 per cent of Travellers are under 25, compared with 33.4 per cent of the general population.
Just 451 Traveller men and 481 Traveller women are 65 and older.
“Educational attainment among Travellers continues to lag significantly behind that of the general population. Among Traveller females just 13.3 per cent were educated to secondary school level or above, compared with 69 per cent of the general population,” says the report.
“Nearly six in 10 male Travellers (57.2 per cent) were educated to primary level at most, compared with just 13.6 per cent of the population.”
However, “the 167 Travellers with a third-level qualification was almost double the 2011 figure of 89”.
The majority (80.2 per cent) of the 10,653 Travellers in the labour force are unemployed. Almost one in eight (11.3 per cent) said they were unable to work due to a disability, almost three times the rate in the general population (4.3 per cent).
Travellers are also more urbanised than the general population, with 78.6 per cent of them in cities or towns (of 1,500 or more), compared with 62.4 per cent of the general population. The highest number – 5,089 – live in Dublin city and its suburbs followed by Galway city (1,589) and Cork city (1,222).
Outside the cities Tuam, Co Galway, has the largest Traveller population with 737, followed by Longford town with 730. Other towns that are home to 500 or more Travellers are Navan, Mullingar, Dundalk and Ballinasloe.
Travellers continue to marry younger than the rest of the population, with 32 per cent of 15-29 year old Travellers married, compared with 5.8 per cent in the wider population.
The divorce rate among Travellers, at 2.2 per cent is less than half that in the wider population, at 4.7 per cent.
Martin Collins co-director of Traveller support group Pavee Point said: “These figures show the huge gaps that continue to exist in Traveller health, education, employment and accommodation.
“Travellers are dying six times younger and are poorer educated than the general population. With low education achievement it’s no surprise we’re living with an 80 per cent unemployment figure,” he said.