My name is Gabi Muntean I work as a community worker in Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre.
I am going to speak today about the Article 25 from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which talks about the Right to Adequate Health.
Article 25 states:
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
When I read this article I am thinking that this only applies for some people but definitely not the Roma or Travellers. In Ireland at the end of 2018 my people are living in extreme poverty.
Findings from the Roma Needs Assessment shows that
5% Not always have enough food
2% Not have enough fuel
6% Begging is the only source of income
1% of respondents who applied for social protection, were not successful
7% of respondents reported having been homeless at some stage of their lives
I will tell you a short story about a Roma family that came to Ireland in 2007. The family has 8 children and 2 of them are minors at the moment. The only source of income for this family is begging.
The two minor children are still going to school even though the mother was not entitled to child benefit and struggles to buy food and clothes.
The father died earlier this year, which has put even more pressure on the mother to provide for her children. She is very ill and spends a lot of time in hospital.
She has no medical card, and their housing is very poor. The house is not heated, there’s no running water, no electricity, damp, and mould and a mountain of medical bills.
I work with a lot of Roma families, and I see this all the time. This is why I say at the beginning that this Article, and many other articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are not experienced by Roma in Ireland.
I am asking you today to remember that not everyone has the same opportunities in life and life is very hard for Roma in Ireland.
Only now, 2 weeks ago, after living in Ireland for over 10 years, did this woman qualify for habitual residency and can now receive child benefit. How many Roma families have to go through this hell?