Pavee Point welcomes today the publication of the ESRI’s research – ‘A Social Portrait of Travellers in Ireland’. This research is to be commended in its comprehensiveness – not just in terms of methodology but also in terms of the broad context of the study.

The research confirms a lot of what we have been saying over the years – that Travellers have benefited less than non-Travellers in developments in health, education, employment and accommodation,” said Martin Collins, Pavee Point Director speaking at the research launch.

Given the developments in education over the last 40 years it is damning to think that, as the ESRI has stated, the educational gap between Travellers and non-Travellers has actually increased rather than decreased,” he said.

According to the report -Travellers are over 50 times more likely to leave school without the Leaving Certificate or equivalent than expected based on their age distribution and other characteristics.

This confirms the need for a Traveller Education Strategy which we have been calling for many years. Instead we have had cutbacks in the supports that did exist for Travellers – which will no doubt contribute to an even further gap in equality between Travellers and non-Travellers,” said Mr. Collins.

The report acknowledges discrimination against Travellers in the workplace saying that even after taking education into account, the odds of not being at work remain nearly nine times higher for Travellers than for non-Travellers.  

It also acknowledges the overcrowded living conditions that the majority of Travellers experience and the dire lack of water and sanitation that a minority of Travellers experience.

Despite the publication of the All Ireland Traveller Health Study (AITHS) in 2010 the ESRI report confirms that all of the evidence points to poorer health among Travellers than the general population. “This is a terrible indictment on our society – despite knowing about the seriously low health status of a section of our society nothing has been done to rectify this situation,” said Mr. Collins.

Rightly, in our view, the ESRI point out that the disadvantage experienced by Travellers in our society is so serious as to warrant specific policy measures and in the case of health we call for an urgent action plan to implement the findings of AITHS – a study which has been gathering dust in the Department of Health for some years.”

The ESRI study  was made possible by including a question on ethnic identity in the Census and with its publications we can now see the benefit of this measure.   As experts in the area of research it is pertinent that the ESRI calls in this report for an ethnic identifier to be added to administrative systems as a priority – so that the circumstances of Travellers can be monitored over time.

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