Press Statement: Yes to Equality: Yes to Ethnicity Recognition?

Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre
Press Statement
June 9th 2015


Yes to Equality: Yes to Ethnicity Recognition?


Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre today welcomes the questions posed by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights about Traveller and Roma rights, particularly around Traveller ethnicity recognition, poor education outcomes and persistent health inequalities.

Speaking today, Co Director of Pavee Point Martin Collins, called again for the immediate recognition of Traveller ethnicity. “Ireland recently voted to recognise the equal rights of LGBT people to marry- and we should keep that momentum going for other groups.”

“Traveller ethnicity has been a topic of discussion and debate for decades. We have waited long enough. The Committee has asked the Government what obstacles remain preventing the recognition of ethnicity and today, we also ask this question.”

Traveller health also emerged as an issue before the Committee, with the Government acknowledging poorer health outcomes for Travellers. The Government was also asked about the collection of disaggregated data to identify service gaps for Travellers and Roma, a call Pavee Point has been making for many years.

“Equality data collection would allow for stronger, more informed policy development and implementation. The All Ireland Traveller Health Study provided evidence for improving Traveller health in 2010, but a National Traveller Health Strategy has not been formulated to address the documented inequalities,” said Martin Collins.

Ireland also faced questions about poor education outcomes for Travellers. Given that 55% of Travellers leave school before the age of 15, it is eminently clear that current strategies to improve education outcomes are not working.

“The Minister in Geneva stated that education spending was protected during austerity, but this is simply not the case. In fact, there was massive and disproportionate disinvestment in Traveller education with the onset of austerity. Both the Visiting Teacher Service for Travellers and Resource Teachers for Travellers schemes were cut in 2011, and all 33 Senior Traveller Training Centres were closed. In truth, Traveller education underwent a cut of 86.6%- a far cry from ‘protection’.”