International Day of Persons with Disabilities – racism experienced by Deaf and Disabled Travellers and Roma

Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre celebrates today –   the 3rd of December  – International Day of  Persons with Disabilities and calls on the government to ratify the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) optional protocol – which they committed to doing in 2020. 

Pavee Point works from a human rights model, which recognises the diversity of Travellers and Roma including the rights of Disabled and Deaf Travellers and Roma.   “Ratification of the optional protocol is extremely important because it is through this process that disabled people can take an individual or group complaint to the UN when one or more of their rights under the CRPD have been breached,” said Martin Collins, Co Director.

“This optional protocol is absolutely essential for addressing infringements on human rights of disabled persons in Ireland and the optional protocol must be ratified without delay,” he said. 

“We also welcome the new Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters and urge the Committee to be cognisant of racism in relation to Deaf and Disabled Travellers and Roma and ensure they can participate fully in the Committee’s work.”

Pavee Point urges the implementation of all UNCRPD rights.  Article 19 the Right for independence and community living must take into account the need for culturally appropriate support – including accommodation for Disabled and Deaf Travellers and Roma.

Impact of COVID

Travellers and Roma are named as a vulnerable group by the European Fundamental Rights Agency and their report states the COVID  pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Travellers and Roma including those who are Deaf and Disabled.  

“During the pandemic we recognise the increase in social isolation from family and friends and difficulties in accessing services for Deaf and Disabled people. The concern that during the ongoing restrictions that many Travellers  and Roma do not have access to vital primary care services is worrying.

“These include screening and referral pathways for secondary diagnostics and treatment, which includes the access needs of Deaf and Disabled Travellers,” said Ronnie Fay, Co Director of Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre.

 “Traveller and equality proofing are central to our COVID responses. Many Travellers  and Roma don’t have access to basic amenities such as water or toilets, and experience significant digital poverty such as lack of access of Wi-Fi.  This is particularly worrying  for Travellers and Roma who are Deaf and Disabled.

“Pavee Point continues to engage with service providers to ensure the support needs of Deaf and Disabled Travellers and Roma are recognised and realised,” she said.