Irish Human Rights Commission calls for Traveller ethnicity to be ‘a priority’.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has told the United Nations Human Rights Council that Travellers should be recognised by the Irish Government as an ethnic minority – as a priority.

“While there has been some progress in advancing the dialogue on Traveller ethnicity, the State has not formally recognised Travellers as an ethnic minority,” states the Commission, “As a matter of priority, Travellers should be recognised as an ethnic minority.”

In its submission to the Universal  Periodic Review   UN the Commission says that Travellers continue to experience multiple barriers to the right to adequate housing, education and healthcare.

The Commission also calls on the Irish Government to renew its National Action Plan Against Racism which lapsed in 2008.

Under the Review process, States are interviewed by other UN countries, on their human rights record across a broad range of human rights.

These rights include civil and political rights such as the right to liberty, freedom of speech, freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment; as well as economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to health, education and social security.

The Commission has made 36 recommendations in its Submission aimed at addressing human rights shortfalls, on areas such as Constitutional reform; the rights of persons with disabilities; racial discrimination; domestic violence; Direct Provision and asylum seekers rights; the right to reproductive health; Travellers’ rights; prisoner’s rights and affordable housing.

Ireland was last reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review cycle in 2011, and will be reviewed again in spring 2016.