The impact of a lack of employment, not having the right to reside, and not being habitually resident was highlighted throughout the research.

This acts as a block to any ongoing financial support (including child benefit); social housing supports (including homeless supports); and employment training supports, such as community employment.

This creates a vicious cycle where those in most need of employment and other supports cannot access them. It can also impact access to medical cards whereby people cannot prove their means. It impacts on access to education where families struggle with the finances needed to support children in school.


Our recommendations

  • Enhance humanitarian responses for Roma families living in extreme poverty to ensure that adults and children are not living without food and basic accommodation facilities.

  • Develop national Roma training and employment actions in the following areas:

    • A. Undertake targeted training to support labour market activation of Roma in key areas, for example Roma community workers and professional Roma translators.

    • B. Support training programmes for Roma who are not habitually resident.

  • Provide support to Roma in ensuring documentation for social protection applications.

  • Review the legislative and policy restrictions that impact on the provision of medical cards for Roma with no income.

  • Take effective measures to tackle anti-Roma discrimination and racism with a priority focus on Roma women.

  • Introduce a standardised ethnic identifier using the human rights framework in routine administrative systems and in the Census.

What are Roma people saying? 

“I am very unhappy and poor… I feel helpless. When I do not feel in good health, I’m not going to the doctor because I have no medical card.” 25 year old Roma man.

“I would not dress in Roma [now] because we get treated badly, followed, and discriminated against.” Young Roma woman.

“Hard life. Very hard but I don’t know what to do, where to go, I am hopeless, please help me, help me, help the Roma.” 32 year old Roma man.

“This is my home. I would not consider anywhere else home, I grew up here.” 21 year old Roma woman.

Roma Peer Researchers:

“This training has been a great uplifting experience and I have learnt new skills.  I have trained with a really great group of Roma and I’m very happy to be part of the first group of Roma peer researchers in Ireland.  I want to be part of making this change happen for Roma in Ireland, if not for me for the future” – Delia, Dublin.

“I am very glad to be part of this research because I want Roma to have our voices heard at the highest levels.  We have to tackle discrimination.  We want to be seen as human beings and not by our stereotypes” – Gina, Tralee.

“I think it’s important that we are shown in a better light.  I hope this research will improve things for our community so that we don’t have to hide who we are.  We want to contribute to Irish society – this is our home” – Julias, Ennis.

How did we do the research? 

The Roma Needs Assessment was a mixed-methods study, based on human rights and equality frameworks. Roma researchers were involved at every stage of the project, from the design to the dissemination of findings. This is the first national participatory research project of its kind with Roma in Ireland, and the first time that such a large number of Roma participants have shared information about their experiences. Roma peer researchers conducted quantitative interviews in over 100 Roma households across Ireland, and Roma also participated in focus groups with representatives from civil society and statutory agencies. Additionally, 30 interviews were conducted with policy-makers, practitioners, services providers and civil society representatives working with Roma.

Further findings

  • The highest rates of perceived discrimination are in accessing accommodation (93.3%) and social protection (84.3%). Women were identified as particularly vulnerable to racist abuse.

  • In 50% of households with children, respondents reported that they do not always have enough food and 40.2% were not successful in applying for social protection payments. This means the households are not receiving child benefits.

  • 57.5% of respondents reported not having enough money for books and uniforms.

  • Respondents reported not having a GP (38.9%), not having a medical card (50%), and not having good mental health for more than 14 days in a row (51.3%).

  • In households with women who were pregnant, 36% had difficulty accessing maternity services and 24.6% did not attend a doctor or hospital before birth.

  • Respondents reported not having a kitchen (12.4%), a cooker (9.6%), or a fridge (13.5%) in their accommodation. 19.8% of respondents reported having no PPS number which limits their access to services.

  • 55.8% of respondents always needed assistance in translation when speaking; only 12.6% respondents mentioned using professional interpreters.

  • Of respondents who applied for social protection 48.1% were not successful. When respondents were asked about the status of all adults in the household 34.8% were reported as having the right to reside, 25.5% were reported as not having the right to reside and the highest proportion of answers was don’t know of 38.5%.

Case Studies

“A family came to me with a very sick baby. They are sharing a flat with someone else and when I visited the flat I saw that they have no cooker, kettle or microwave. They have a small fridge and they go into another flat to cook. The only furniture they have is a small table, a chair and one bed with a single mattress. There is no water in the bathroom. They have no money. The father begs and has been arrested several times” -Reported by a health care provider.

“I am working with a family with a sick child of only five months. It is very difficult to communicate, they need an interpreter. The child has no GP or vaccinations and the parents said they did not know how to get a GP. They live in a bedsit with the father’s brother’s family. There are four adults and two children in the same room. The mother and father sleep with their baby on a mattress on the floor. They have no bed for themselves or cot for the baby.” -Reported by a service provider.


‘Roma in Ireland – A National Needs Assessment’ (Selected findings)

‘Roma in Ireland – A National Needs Assessment’ (Full report)

Roma Resources

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