Travellers Unrecognised Again at ICCPR Hearings

On July 14th and 15th, Pavee Point attended in Geneva for Ireland’s hearings before the 111th Session of the Human Rights Committee. Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald TD was in attendance with officials from Government departments to answer questions and make statements during the hearings.

Pavee Point and other Traveller organisations have been advocating the recognition of Travellers as an ethnic group for over 20 years. Despite numerous calls from international human rights bodies and a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence, ethnicity recognition has not been established by the Irish Government. During the hearings, Ireland again failed to commit to the recognition of Traveller ethnicity.

The Human Rights Committee questioned why Ireland has still not acknowledged Traveller ethnicity, despite the recommendations by a range of treaty bodies and the recent report of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. That report called on the Taoiseach or the Minister for Justice and Equality to make a statement to Dáil Éireann confirming that this State recognises the ethnicity of the travelling community. The report further outlined that it is no longer tenable for this State to deny Traveller ethnicity and we wholheartedly agree. This has been delayed for long enough.

Pavee Point welcomes the Human Rights Committee’s call for affirmative action to be taken by Ireland to recognise Traveller and Roma rights. The Committee pointed to Traveller’s lower life expectancy, higher child mortality rates, high suicide rates and the need to address these issues.

The Human Rights Committee stated that there are shortcomings in Ireland’s actions to recognise Roma rights. We welcome the commitment by Minister Fitzgerald to put increased focus on issues facing Roma community given the challenges that they face and we call on Ireland to develop a progressive National Traveller Roma Integration Strategy in line with Ireland’s human rights commitments.

You can read the Pavee Point press statement in relation to the committee findings here.