Real change for Travellers and Roma needed as EU survey highlights stark inequalities

Irish results of an EU Survey highlight stark inequalities and Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre called for a co-ordinated approach to Traveller and Roma inclusion and a drive for implementation.  

Martin Collins, Co Director Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre, speaking at the online launch called for a co-ordinated approach to Traveller and Roma inclusion and a drive for implementation.  

The recording of this Zoom Webinar Launch is available here.

“These results confirm much of what is already known about the serious levels of inequality, discrimination and exclusion experienced by Irish Travellers” said Martin Collins, Pavee Point Co Director at the launch.

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“We have seen through the COVID-19 crisis that much can be achieved when it’s needed.  A co-ordinated approach is needed to bring about real change,” he said.

“This report is timely as we now have a unique opportunity to ensure that the forthcoming EU national inclusion strategies, and especially the Irish National Traveller & Roma Inclusion Strategy (NTRIS), will be reinforced with sufficient coherence, teeth and drive to implement real change.”

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Meaningful Change Wanted, says Minister

Roderic O Gorman, TD Minister of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and youth speaking at the launch said the survey results make it clear that Travellers still face significant barriers to full equality.

Roderic O Gorman, TD, Equality Minister

“These results will inform the review of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021.

“I want to ensure that the successor strategy has a stronger outcomes-focused approach, to help bring about meaningful change for the Traveller and Roma community in Ireland.”

Unacceptable Hardships

Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Fundamental Rights Agency, Michael O Flaherty who commissioned the survey said:  “Travellers are as Irish as you and me. But they have been excluded from our society for generations.

“These results confirm the unacceptable hardships and barriers Travellers still face in 21st century Ireland. The results should challenge us all and can help policymakers to deliver equality and inclusion for Irish Travellers.”  

Traveller Researchers

Peer researcher and Traveller Community Health Worker Bridget Nevin emphasised the importance of Traveller involvement in doing the fieldwork for this survey. 

“Travellers know the facts on the ground but by recording them in this way we hope the government will take action based on the facts highlighted about discrimination and racism in every part of our lives,” she said.


Other speakers at the survey launch were Carol Baxter , Assistant Secretary Dept of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth who introduced the event, Sinead Gibney , Chief Commissioner at the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission who spoke via video on the importance of data on ethnicity and Ursula Till-Tentschert, FRA Project Manager on the Traveller & Roma Survey who gave an overview of the results. The event was chaired by Anastasia Crickley.

Survey Results

The report details the Irish results from the FRA Survey of Rights and Living Conditions of Travellers in Ireland.

Key findings from the survey included: 

Health – Significant life expectancy gap of 10 years between Travellers and the general population with a bigger gap for Traveller men than Traveller women.

Employment – Travellers in Ireland report lowest rates of employment in all countries surveyed at 15%.

Poverty and Social Exclusion – 10% of Travellers (including children) surveyed report ‘going to bed hungry’ at least once in the last month, rising to a fifth in some countries surveyed..

Accommodation – Over 90% of Travellers report that there is insufficient and inadequate accommodation available, including halting sites.

Racism and Discrimination – Ireland had the second highest rate of reported discrimination within the countries surveyed – 68 % of men and 62 % of women reported experiencing discrimination. This is reflected in the general respondents surveyed with 46% stating they would feel “uncomfortable with Roma and Travellers as neighbours.”

Education – Ireland has the second highest rate of Traveller children participating in early childhood education (75%), however, it continues to lag behind that of the general population. There is a 70% rate of early school leaving among Irish Travellers, compared to 5% for the general population.

Full Report HERE

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The survey which took place from December 2018 and July 2019 was carried out in 6 countries – Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and for the first time, Ireland.  Peer researchers undertook the research ensuring a participative approach and accurate information.