Anti-Traveller and Roma Racism Highlighted in UN Human Rights Review for Ireland

Pavee Point is encouraged  that over half of the UN Member States highlighted the importance of combatting racism at Ireland’s Universal Periodic Review yesterday. We are joined in this by the National Traveller Women’s Forum, Galway Traveller Movement, Donegal Traveller Project and Minceirs Whiden.

Many of the103 countries specifically mentioned Traveller & Roma issues and called for the need to strengthen the implementation of the National Traveller & Roma Inclusion Strategy by adopting a robust implementation plan and resources.

German Representative at UPR

Germany asked the Irish Government what mechanisms would be put in place to end discrimination against Travellers and Roma, especially  women.

Palestine called for ‘zero tolerance’ of racism and Finland recommended the State to address anti-Traveller and Roma racism through the forthcoming National Action Plan against Racism. Many countries welcomed the setting up of an Anti-racism committee and called for the forthcoming National Action Plan Against Racism to have clear indicators, time-frames and resources.

Zero Tolerance for racism recommended by Palestine

Racial profiling by the police was highlighted by number of countries as was racist hate speech and crime, including against Travellers and Roma. Concerns regarding  Traveller and Roma accomodation, health, education, employment and disproportionate representation in prison all featured in the questions and recommendations put to the Irish delegation during the Review.

We welcome Minister Roderic O’Gorman’s commitment to review all the recommendations and to engage with civil society on this work and we look forward to working with Irish State and its delegation on progressing these issues. 

Statement by 5 Traveller organisations on Ireland the UPR 2021

We welcome Ireland’s engagement in the United Nations Universal Periodic Review process this week and urge our government to adopt and implement recommendations arising from the Review.

We are at a key junction in terms of achieving full human rights for Travellers and Roma in Ireland and we affirm our commitment to working with the State to bring this about.  

Since the last UPR of Ireland in 2016, a number of important steps have been taken – including the recognition of Traveller ethnicity, Expert Review of Traveller Accommodation provision and the publication of the first Roma Needs Assessment.  But these steps have not yet translated into real improvements and real change.

We saw during the pandemic how things can be achieved when our Government prioritises Travellers, Roma and other socially excluded groups and when there is cross-departmental co-operation and determination.   We need this type of determination to continue to make real improvements in realities for Irish Travellers and Roma in Ireland.

We are urgently awaiting the publication of the National Traveller Health Action Plan to help bridge the, on average, 10 year life expectancy gap between Travellers and the general population.  Details of this plan remain unclear and its publication is delayed.

A National Traveller Education Strategy and a Traveller and Roma Training and Employment Plan are both government commitments but these are yet to be developed with clear target, time frames and structures to drive their implementation.

Without a holistic Traveller Education Strategy attempts to address the poor education outcomes for Travellers remain piecemeal at best. Barriers to employment for Travellers and Roma need to be addressed in a strategic way to give real meaning to education outcomes. 

Where policy is in place we need sustainable action to implement this policy.  The current National Traveller & Roma Inclusion Strategy (NTRIS) exists since 2017 but its implementation is slow due to lack of clear targets, indicators and budget lines.  Meanwhile the EU is putting more emphasis on achieving real change under NTRIS with the EU Roma Strategic Framework 2020 – 2030.

Traveller accommodation and homelessness is in crisis with latest figures showing almost 40% of the Traveller population experiencing homelessness.   The Government has prioritised 4 out of 32 recommendations by the Independent Expert Group on Traveller Accommodation but progress is slow on this.

A new National Action Plan Against Racism is being drafted but this plan needs to address the specific forms of anti-Traveller and anti-Roma racism.

Both Travellers (less 1%) and Roma in Ireland (estimated 5,000) are small populations.   It is well within the Government’s capacity to develop targeted measures to improve Traveller and Roma human rights.  We need the State to take on this challenge in a meaningful way and at the highest level.