Whole of Government Approach Should Be Normal Practice
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“Government willingness to respond to the particular needs of Travellers is encouraging at this time,” said Martin Collins, Co Director, Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre, “It is important for Travellers to know they are being included in Government plans to stay safe from COVID-19.”
“What we are achieving during this crisis should become normal in the future. We are starting to see a whole of government approach and an understanding that providing decent living conditions is part of an overall approach to creating health and well-being within the Traveller and Roma communities”
The Department of Housing has emphasised its clear directive to Local Authorities that all Travellers, no matter where they are living, will get access to basic services – such as water and sanitation – where needed during COVID-19 crisis.
The Department has committed to providing funding for these services and will monitor the implementation of its circular of 18th March.
Highlighting our Concerns
“Pavee Point is engaging with the Health Service Executive and the Department of Housing who we feel are listening to our concerns and we hope that, together, we can move forward and help limit the impact of the virus within the Traveller community,” says Martin Collins.
The particular challenges faced by many Travellers include-
– Accessing water and facilitating self-isolation for the approximate 3,000 Travellers still forced to live on the side of the road and others living in poor conditions on local authority halting sites
– The difficulties of self-isolation in overcrowded conditions faced by Travellers who have been forced to double up on sites
“As more Travellers test positive with COVID-19 these challenges will increase,” said Mr. Collins “And the risk is Irish Travellers will suffer the impacts of COVID-19 disproportionately as a result of many years of neglect, marginalisation and exclusion.”
Getting Relevant Information Out
“Pavee Point is doing all it can to support Traveller organisations, Traveller Primary Health Care Projects, Traveller Health Units and Roma Networks around the country to get relevant information out to the community in a timely fashion.”
“We will continue to raise issues of concern with the Health Service Executive and the Department of Housing and to highlight the important role local authorities have in this situation.”