A new Traveller Oireachtas Group (TOG) aims to develop ‘solid, concrete actions’ on Traveller education, employment and mental health, said the group Co-Convenor Independent Senator Colette Kelleher at the launch today.

Since formal recognition of Travellers ethnic minority status, Oireachtas members of all parties and none, have the opportunity now to create consensus and action on critical issues affecting Travellers lives,” added Senator Kelleher.

Real Progress

It is great that TDs and Senators are leading out on this and focusing attention on the inequalities experienced by Travellers, “said Pavee Point Co Director Martin Collins who spoke at the launch.

Action is long overdue and we look forward to some real progress – such as sustainable policy and Government accountability in the areas to be covered by the group – health, education, employment and accommodation.”

Sindy Joyce speaking at launch of Traveller Oireachtas Group

Equality

We all know that sad reality that there are not votes for politicians in supporting Travellers but I want to thank the politicians who agreed to be part of this important initiative because they are advocates for human rights and for equality.

I would also like to call on more TDs and Senators to TOG out for human rights and be active members of this group,” said Mr. Collins.

Mental Health Crisis

Mr. Collins supported calls for interventions in the Traveller mental health crisis, which shows that Traveller men suffer from a suicide rate suicide 6.6 times the national average.

We have called for ‘urgent intervention’ by the State on this issue.

Traveller Culture on School Curriculum

In terms of education Travellers suffer major disadvantage and the launch of TOG coincides with Senator Kelleher’s introduction of ‘The Traveller Culture and Education Bill’ to the houses of the Oireachtas. This Bill proposes to ‘incorporate Traveller culture and history into mainstream school curricula’.

Traveller employment is also in crisis with 80% of Travellers within the workforce – unemployed. “A key barrier for Travellers getting jobs is discrimination,” said Martin Collins who also spoke of lack of respect for the Traveller economy.

The Traveller Oireachtas Group was convened following consultation between specific Oireachtas members and The Irish Traveller Movement, Pavee Point, Minceirs Whiden and the National Traveller Women’s Forum.

Group Make-Up

The group was convened following consultation between specific Oireachtas members, the Irish Traveller Movement and national Traveller representative organisations.

Traveller Oireachtas Group Co-convenors – Senator Colette Kelleher and Jan O’Sullivan, TD

Independent Senator Colette Kelleher

Labour TD Jan O Sullivan

Other members: Senators Padraig McLochlainn, Aodhan O’Riordan and Martin Conway

Deputies, Eamon O’Cuiv, Eoin O’Broin, Brid Smith , Clare Daly, Fiona O’Loughlin and Mick Wallace , TDs. Secretariat:The Irish Traveller Movement