Traveller and Roma children of the nation must be treated equally

Over 100 Roma and Travellers gathered in Pavee Point today to celebrate International Roma and Traveller Day on  8th of April. 

“In a year that we have celebrated Irish identity with such pride in the 1916 commemorations, my community still don’t have our ethnic status recognised by the State. The tragedy of Carrickmines was a clear reminder of the deeply rooted racism in Irish society towards Travellers,” Martin Collins, Co-Director, Pavee Point.    

“We celebrated the 1916 rising and the notion of cherishing the children of the nation equally and yet Roma and Traveller children are living in housing reminiscent of the tenements of 1916.  Young Roma children are going to bed hungry.  This is unacceptable.”

“We call on our newly elected representatives to prioritise the realisation of Traveller and Roma rights and 100 years on to realise the vision of all children of our nation being treated equally. Travellers and Roma must be included in the new Programme for Government”

Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Emily Logan, also spoke at the event. 

“I am delighted to celebrate International Roma and Traveller day together with Pavee Point,” she said. “The Commission looks forward to securing the continued and valued involvement of the Roma and Traveller communities, in furtherance of a better intercultural understanding and the full realisation of human rights and equality for all.”

“We will continue to challenge the discriminatory barriers faced by Travellers and Roma in Ireland. In our three-year Strategy, launched earlier this year, promoting full participation in Irish society is among our core values.”

The event started with a poignant rendition of the Romani national anthem “Gelem Gelem” by Romani musicians from Musicantia and was followed by a vibrant celebration of Roma and Traveller culture through music and song.

“International Roma and Traveller Day is a great opportunity for Musicantia to introduce our beautiful music and the aims of our organisation to the wide audience. We wish to educate young Roma people through music and to create opportunities for Roma people to interact with our own community and other communities living in Ireland,” said Sergiu Pruteanu, Director, Musicantia – a cultural project that runs a music school for young Roma in Dublin.

However, it is also important to be clear about the human rights issues facing Roma and Travellers in Ireland and the challenges that lie ahead. It’s just over two years since Roma children were unnecessarily taken into care on the basis of their appearance.