Home > News > Speaking up for Traveller & Roma at UN Review
Members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child raised questions and concerns in relation to Traveller & Roma children during Ireland’s two day review under the Convention this week.
Concerns were raised by Committee members across a variety of important areas such as education, health and accommodation.
Committee members asked questions in relation to Traveller children being subject to reduced timetables at school and overall poor outcomes for Traveller children in education.
“Targets on outcomes for Traveller children in secondary education need to be introduced in order to combat the barriers facing Traveller children in school,” said Anastasia Crickley, Pavee Point Chairperson and previously Chair of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The development of an overall Traveller Education Strategy is a commitment in the current Programme for Government but little progress has been made to date.
There was also a focus on Traveller health by UN Committee members during Ireland’s review and in particular on youth mental health.
“We hope the UN Committee in its report will make clear and, what we believe, essential recommendations in this area,” said Geraldine McDonnell, Pavee Point Mental Health Initiative who noted the Department of Health response that specific measures on youth mental health would be introduced.
There was also a strong focus on Traveller accommodation during the Committee review and Pavee Point remains concerned at the Irish delegation response that annual Traveller accommodation budgets have been spent.
“While monies have been drawn down,” said Mary Brigid Collins, Pavee Point “There have been no new builds in Traveller accommodation. This is an issue that is closely linked to mental health and overcrowding and Traveller homelessness is having a major impact on Traveller children.”
The recommendations of the Independent Expert Group on accommodation need to be urgently implemented. So far only 8 of the 32 recommendations have been completed.
Access to Child Benefit
The Government’s response to concerns that not all Roma children can access to social protections was described as ‘inadequate’ by Gabi Muntean of Pavee Point’s Roma Programme.
“We are very unhappy about the government’s lack of action on this issue,” she said.
“The application of the Habitual Residence Condition excludes many Roma children from receiving Child Benefit,” said Ms. Muntean. “Nearly 1 in 2 Roma households with children are not successful in their application for social protection payments and are not receiving Child Benefit payment and other social supports. Child benefit needs to be made a truly universal payment.
“This is an issue the new Child Poverty Centre at the Department of the Taoiseach, announced to the Committee, needs to move on immediately,” added Ms. Muntean.
The over-representation of Traveller children in the criminal justice system was also raised and concerns were raised regarding racial profiling. The UN Committee will produce a report with recommendations in coming weeks.