Still 'significant discrimination' towards Travellers - report

Still 'significant discrimination' towards Travellers - report
Irish Traveller Movement's, Bernard Joyce.

The Council of Europe says there's still 'significant discrimination' towards Travellers in Ireland. In a new report, it says Travellers are 38 times more likely to experience discrimination in pubs compared to other 'white-Irish' people.

It also claims that Travellers are up to 22 times likelier to be discriminated against in trying to access housing.

The 47-nation organisation notes increasing tolerance in Ireland, but also states that national strategies or actions plans on key issues – such as the integration of Travellers and Roma communities – suffer from a lack of clear and concrete implementation plans.

Traveller communities, in particular, continue to experience discrimination in numerous aspects of their daily life including employment, housing, education and the provision of health services.

The Council of Europe's Jean-Etienne Kautzmann said it is time that Irish authorities address these prejudices: "It's time to make policies more concrete now. To achieve those results there is a need for clear targets, time-frames, budgets and all that needs to be monitored and evaluated. Otherwise, you keep having, as it's put in the opinion, a quite high level of discrimination faced by travellers."

In its report, the Council noted that Irish society demonstrates increasing tolerance in general as well as active participation in democratic processes, reflected in recent amendments to the Constitution touching on sensitive social issues, made through referenda with high turnouts.

“The State recognition of the Traveller minority ethnic group on March 1, 2017 demonstrates an important evolution in the way Irish Travellers are perceived in Irish society as a whole, as well as with regard to their status,” said the Council.

“It contributes to Irish Travellers seeing themselves as fully-fledged members of Irish society, even though a number of challenges still remain in order to improve their social and economic situation and the significant discrimination of which they are victim in numerous aspects of their daily life.”

However, it added that while the Irish authorities make important efforts to adopt national strategies relating to the Traveller and Roma communities, there is a lack of clear implementation.

“The National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy for 2017-2021 also suffers from the absence of a monitoring and evaluation mechanism, which should involve representatives of Traveller and Roma organisations,” says the report.

Significant efforts have been made in order to improve the integration and schooling of Traveller children. Illiteracy remains, however, a long-standing challenge to be addressed.

The Council wants the Irish Government to “adopt an implementation plan, in close cooperation with Traveller and Roma communities, with clear targets, indicators, timeframe and resources with respect to all health-related, accommodation-related and other socio-economic measures listed in the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy and implement such measures without delay.”

The Irish Traveller Movement's Bernard Joyce welcomed the report:

"We're absolutely not shocked by the findings and this is reconfirming what we've been saying is that Travellers are discriminated in terms of goods and service. That includes public houses and hotels and we're hearing that on a day-to-day basis."

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