The Irish Traveller Movement (ITM) is calling on the Irish Government to recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority group. Catherine Joyce, chair of the ITM said: "Ethnic status would provide greater protection of Travellers cultural independence under law. This would include official recognition of Traveller culture in the provision of housing, education, health services. For example, nomadism would have to be properly catered for in housing provision. It also would have implications in terms of ensuring Traveller representation in the political system. Furthermore, there is also an important symbolic meaning of Traveller Culture becoming validated as both distinct and valued within Irish society."
Niall Crowley, CEO of the Equality Authority, said the Authority would sign the Irish Traveller Movement's petition and added that "the definition of Travellers needs to be more widely articulated in national policy and programmes if Travellers are to achieve full equality in practice across all areas of policy and provision."
Amnesty International also agreed to sign the petition and promote it. Executive Director of Amnesty International's Irish Section Colm O Gorman said: "Amnesty International fully endorses this petition and we urge our members and supporters to join the campaign".
The Director of the National Consultative Committee in Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) Phillip Watt said: "The NCCRI is disappointed that the Government does not explicitly recognise Travellers as an ethnic group and will sign this petition to help highlight the issue."Recognition of Traveller Ethnicity would:
Send a strong message to Travellers that their cultural heritage and place in Irish society has due recognition and worth. For Travellers, especially young Travellers, it would go towards addressing the crisis in identity they face and redeem a sense of pride and esteem in their cultural identity
Provide greater protection of Travellers' cultural independence under European and International Conventions already ratified by the Irish Government. This would include official recognition of Traveller culture in the provision of housing, education, health services. For example, nomadism would have to be properly catered for in housing provision.
Have implications in terms of ensuring Traveller representation within the Irish political system