Final Update on Ireland’s Review under International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

Today concludes the 4th Review of Ireland’s progress in implementing the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in Geneva. 

A number of important issues included in our submission were raised by the Committee including health, accommodation, education and poverty.

Accessing Basic Social Protection

In its response to the Committee, the Traveller & Roma Coalition believes the State failed to adequately respond to questions on poverty and the impact of the  Habitual Residence Condition on families,  particularly for Roma families.

Speaking today Pavee Point Co Director, Lynsey Kavanagh said: The last time the State was reviewed the Committee highlighted concerns at the lack of access to basic social protection for Roma families, including Child Benefit, even after having lived in the country for several years.”

The Coalition has previously highlighted how documentation relating to the Habitual Residence Condition is a key barrier to accessing Child Benefit.

Civil society representatives with Rapporteur on Ireland Seree Nonthasoot.

“We are disappointed that the State fails to recognise the significant barrier which prevents families, including many Roma families, from accessing the most basic social protection payments such as Child Benefit,” said Ms. Kavangh.

“We need to ensure parents have access to basic income by making Child Benefit a truly universal payment,” she added.

Gabi Muntean of Pavee Point’s Roma Programme added: “In this day and age, Ireland should not condemn families, including Roma families, to live in poverty.  Child Benefit should be universal and making it universal would be the most basic starting point to addressing this issue.”


Travellers and Roma continue to experience stark health inequalities when compared to the general population, 28 and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact, with both communities experiencing significantly higher rates of mortality and morbidity.

The Traveller Coaltion feels the State response to this was inadequate and it was only on questioning that measures under the National Traveller Health Action Plan were outlined.  This is an ambitious plan and holds potential to have a real impact on Traveller health experiences and outcomes, if fully resourced and implemented.  We need the full resources of the government to ensure the full implementation of this plan.


The State’s commitment to the long awaited Traveller and Roma Education Strategy was reiterated at ICESCR and we welcome the information that the Education Dept will continue to work in partnership with Traveller organisations, publish the Strategy in summer 2024 and will have a series of short implementation plans with measurable targets.

Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science acknowledged at ICESCR that figures for Travellers in Higher Education has remained consistently low and outlined some targeted measures aimed at increasing Traveller participation to 150 by 2028.  The Coalition welcomes the introduction of these targets and also the recent inclusion of Roma in targeted measures.

NGOs attend a screen of the review at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.


The government commitment at ICESCR to grow Traveller specific accommodation underpinned by dedicated legislation is to be welcomed.  However, urgent action is needed on this issue.  The accommodation crisis is a key concern for Travellers who experience overcrowding in all types of accommodation.  Poor living conditions are also impacting on other areas such as health, employment and education.


The Coalition also welcomes further news on the publication of a new National Traveller Roma and Inclusion Strategy and that the government will focus on implementation and outcomes In the new document.

Committee Report Due in a Few Weeks

The Coalition welcomes the positive statements by Minister Joe O Brien, at Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development in relation to the participation of civil society in this work.  This was an element that was also acknowledged by the ICESCR committee.  Pavee Point looks forward to the publication of the committee in coming weeks.