Pavee Point welcomes many of the commitments regarding Travellers and Roma outlined in a draft Programme for Government agreed and published today –  but highlights the challenges of implementation.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has shown that we can achieve things that previously seemed impossible,” said Ronnie Fay, Co Director Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre.  “Travellers and Roma now need implementation to be the ‘new normal’.”   

Pavee Point is pleased to see that this proposed Government aims to honour previous commitments to publish and implement the National Traveller Health Action Plan.  “This plan has been a number of years in the making and has the potential to bridge the life expectancy gap between Travellers and the general population,” said Ms Fay.

Pavee Point  also hopes from this document that there would be a stronger commitment to delivering on much needed Traveller accommodation and that local authorities are held accountable on this issue.

While Traveller education is back on the agenda following much lobbying from Traveller organisations, the measures contained in this document are unlikely to turn the tide of exclusion and marginalisation following severe cuts to Traveller education during austerity. 

“We cannot lose opportunities for another generation of young Travellers who are struggling to overcome barriers in this area,” said Martin Collins, Co Director Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre. “ An overall Traveller Education Strategy is needed to address concerns in this area from pre-school onwards as well as at first, second and third levels – where a plan for increasing participation already exists.”

The current National Traveller & Roma Inclusion Strategy is moving too slowly and it remains to be seen if a review in 2021 can deliver stronger outcomes, as promised in today’s draft Programme for Government.

“A new  National Action Plan Against Racism is much needed as we have seen in recent weeks,”  said Mr. Collins, “And to succeed it needs to include civil society and to take on board their concerns. 

“This is a fantastic opportunity to turn the tide on racism in Ireland and organisations like ourselves can identify the steps that need to be taken.”

Pavee Point looks forward to working constructively with the new Government and translating these commitments into reality and creating a more equal and inclusive society for Travellers and Roma.