New NTRIS must lead to ‘actual improvements’ for Travellers and Roma – Minister tells UN ICCPR.

Pavee Point welcomes Equality Minister Roderic O Gorman’s commitment to ensuring implementation and measurable outcomes in the new National Traveller & Roma Inclusion Strategy. 

The Minister was speaking  as part of Ireland’s review under the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that took place in Geneva this week.

Mr O’Gorman told the Committee that Travellers had been “the subject of systematic racism over decades”.

“While recognition of Traveller ethnicity in 2017 was important, a long way has still to go in terms of our treatment of the Travelling community,” said  Minister O Gorman.

The new NTRIS, he said, must lead to “deliverables” because while there had been success in delivering policies and laws, “the actual improvements for the community on the ground – we aren’t seeing enough of that”.

Gabrielle Hutton of ICCPR Secretariat with Jenny Liston, Pavee Point and Megan Berry, Pavee Point .

However, Pavee Point remains concerned at delays which mean the NTRIS review, due in 2021, won’t be complete until the end of 2022 at earliest. Meanwhile urgent action is needed on many aspects of the Strategy.

Pavee Point worked with Traveller organisations Galway Traveller Movement, Minceirs Whiden, Donegal Traveller Project and National Traveller Women’s Forum to represent Traveller and Roma issues in Geneva and briefed UN Committee members on the issues impacting on Travellers and Roma.

Megan Berry at NGO briefing

Thanks to questions from UN Committee members, the Irish State delegation also told the committee of over-representation of Travellers in prisons.  However, State spokespeople did not go so far to recognise underlying causes for this over representation including racism and discrimination in criminal justice system.

The State delegation also spoke about forthcoming legislation on hate crime and hate speech.  Pavee Point has been active in  consultations on this legislation and wait to see the different provisions of the Bill in terms of possible defences and thresholds for hate crime and criminal hate speech, due to go before the Oireachtas in the autumn.  

(LtoR) Jenny Liston and Megan Berry.

The State delegation also pointed to the forthcoming National Action Plan Against Racism as an indicator of the government’s ongoing commitment to anti-racism. Pavee Point looks forward to the inclusion of the particular forms of racism and discrimination experienced by Travellers and Roma being part in this plan. 

The high level State delegation to Geneva covered other  important areas including – mother and baby homes, abortion issues, rights of asylum seekers, violence against women, rights of prisoners, education rights and trafficking and electoral reform.

Ireland’s review under this international covenant takes place once every four years – but often is delayed for longer.  The last ICCPR review took place in 2016.

See also our briefing factsheet:

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