General Election 2016 – Six Points for Candidates

In General Election 2016 we are asking political parties and all election candidates to include these  6 points in their Election Manifestos:

  1. Establish a National Traveller Agency

This Agency will co-ordinate and drive existing policy implementation across the areas of health, employment and education and effect positive impact on the crisis in Traveller living conditions through taking responsibility for development and management of Traveller accommodation provision out of the hands of local authorities. An evaluation on the impact of the withdrawal of Traveller specific education supports needs to be undertaken and we need to ensure Traveller and Roma inclusion in the mainstream education system through the development and implementation of targeted education supports.

  1. Develop a National Traveller Health Strategy

A specific Traveller health policy is urgently required to improve the appalling health status that Travellers continue to experience. This includes mortality rates of three times, and suicide rates of six times, the national average.  This need was most recently highlighted by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in January 2016.

  1. Establish a Civil Service Employment Scheme

The State needs to lead the way in tackling the 84% unemployment rate in the Traveller community so as to create opportunity and give hope of a better future to young Travellers.

  1. election2016Re-invest in Travellers

Traveller budgets need to be replenished and reinstated after severe cutbacks in recent years. The negative impact of funding cuts, especially in Traveller accommodation (reduced from €40m in 2008 to €6m in 2012 down -85%) and education (reduced from €76.5m in 2008 to €10.2m down -86.6%) needs to counterbalanced by re-investment so Travellers, and especially Traveller children, can avail of their right to education and to a family life.

  1. Recognise Traveller ethnicity

Travellers should be recognised and respected in Irish society as a minority ethnic group to help build a more cohesive and intercultural society. For example, this would mean that the Traveller Agency or local authorities would be required to provide Traveller specific accommodation such as group housing schemes where the extended family can live together.

  1. Implement the recommendations of the National Roma Needs Assessment

Protecting the most vulnerable in our society – including Roma without access to basic services – has to be a humanitarian concern of the next Government.