Government Urged To Intensify Its Efforts to Combat Traveller Discrimination and Implement Policy Commitments
(24th March 2022) The Irish Traveller Movement welcome the adoption this morning by the United Nations Human Rights Council of the outcome report of the Working Group to the Universal Periodic Review who had raised concerns regarding the ongoing discrimination against Travellers, including hate speech, the lack of access to adequate accommodation, health, employment and education and the need to preserve and develop Traveller culture and identity in Ireland.
The Universal Periodic Review mechanism was adopted by Ireland and 192 (UN) Member States and is aimed at improving the human rights situation in each country, and into which the Irish Traveller Movement and other Traveller NGOs made submissions in 2021 regarding a range of outstanding inequalities for Travellers.,
The Government have accepted 221 of the Committee’s 260 recommendations and specifically for Travellers & Roma these included where the State have agreed now to
o intensify its efforts to combat systemic discrimination, address anti-Traveller and anti-Roma racism and discrimination in the forthcoming national action plan against racism
o improve implementation of laws against discrimination,
o protect access to health,
o step up efforts to address homelessness and shortcomings in access to adequate housing,
o ensure the government led Traveller and Roma inclusion strategy is implemented and monitored.
o ensure Travellers have full access to and are actively informed about their education rights and appropriate resources are allocated to improve Traveller employment.
o a review of civil legal aid for vulnerable groups,
o legislations to redress hate crime and hate speech, ensuring hate crimes are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted and pass legislative provisions that include racist motivation as an aggravating circumstance.
The Irish Traveller movement welcome the recommendations and are encouraged that since submissions to the process in 2021 , government efforts have provided confidence that a number of actions have been initiated to redress the Committee’s concerns for Travellers , especially with the forthcoming Hate Crime legislation which proposes to amend the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, the developing National Action Plan Against Racism, and a review of the Equal Status Legislation.
Many of other recommendations outlined by the UN committee have not been outpaced by government action, and Traveller NGOs are concerned about the lagging impact of the 2017 National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy which is without a robust implementation and monitoring plan, and some actions over 4 years into the Plan, have yet to start, with many at varying rates of achievement, and without adequate government investment.
There are concerns too that the schedule for the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021 which was delayed by a year, is still without a timeline for introduction. There is clarity needed on particulars in the Bill including criteria used for the list of aggravated offences proposed, and there is need for a wider set of measures (non-criminal and non-legal) to tackle and prevent hate crime and hate speech.
In Traveller accommodation; despite the Report of the Expert Review Group in 2019, to date just 4 of the 32 recommendations in total have been implemented in full. Following a delay of 1 year in 2020 there was confidence that ambition would be realised in 2021, but pace has been extremely slow, and nothing has changed to quicken local authority delivery.
The establishment of a body as recommended to oversee the delivery of Traveller accommodation has not happened and local authorities are operating without national oversight and without a synergy with delivery targets set in local authority Traveller Accommodation Programmes TAP. There is no central intervention where budgets have not been requested, and statutory requirements in the planning framework show according to The Planning Regulator only “three local authorities had close alignment between the listed objectives within their development plan and their current TAP.
The Irish Traveller Movement and Traveller NGOs have called on the Minister, Peter Burke to implement all recommendations of the Expert Review Group with a time lined implementation plan, tangible targets, budget and accountability measures, and to progress a Traveller Accommodation Authority as a priority in 2022.
Traveller health and mental health strategies, despite evidence of need have not been delivered despite commitments in the Programme for Government to both areas and there has been no new core development monies since 2008, other than €270,000 to expand Traveller Health Units in 2021.
Compared to groups in other EU countries in 2020 (1) Travellers were the least likely to have paid work. Just 17% of Traveller women and 13% of Traveller men have paid jobs compared to 68% of non-Traveller women and 80% of non-Traveller men generally. 70% of 16-24yr old Travellers were not in employment, education or training, the highest of all groups across the six countries. This is almost seven times more than young Irish people generally (11%).
The Programme for Government also committed to targeted strategies in education and employment for Travellers, but no progress has been made on these to date, or ring-fenced monies now or at any time have been allocated specifically to Traveller primary and post primary education. Additional monies in higher education and to support local projects tackling education disadvantage and Traveller retention in post primary have been welcomed, but don’t go far enough to meet the need.
The Irish Traveller Movement welcome the planned review of Civil Legal Aid and have made recommendations to the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youthto close the gaps for Travellers in accessing justice in legal aid services. However, it is not evident yet who will lead the current review, a timeline for a report and any subsequent legislative change which might accrue.
For further media information please contact Jacinta Brack 087 27 44791 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to Editors
Link to Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Ireland
Recommendations Accepted for Travellers
1. 157.75 Intensify its efforts to combat systemic discrimination and the increasing incidence of racist hate speech, in particular by politicians against A/HRC/49/18 15 Muslims, Travellers, Roma, refugees, ethnic minorities, asylum seekers and migrants (Islamic Republic of Iran);
2. 157.81 Improve implementation of laws against discrimination, particularly to protect access to housing and health for immigrants and members of racial, ethnic and religious minority groups, including Travellers (United States of America);
3. 157.89 Strengthen measures to combat hate speech against Travellers, Roma, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants (Peru);
4. 157.149 Step up efforts to address homelessness and shortcomings in access to adequate housing, particularly for Travellers and Roma communities (Austria);
5. 157.157 Develop a national housing strategy to generate affordable housing and combat racial discrimination, with particular attention paid to the needs of vulnerable communities, including Travellers, Roma, migrants and refugees (South Africa);
6. 157.225 Finalize its next Traveller and Roma inclusion strategy with a robust implementation and monitoring plan (Turkey);
7. 157.226 Ensure that the new national Traveller and Roma integration strategy to be developed by the Irish Government prioritizes measures to combat racism and discrimination and preserve and develop Traveller culture and identity (Australia);
8. 157.229 Introduce a complete integration policy for Travellers, who continue to suffer from discrimination, as previously recommended (Czechia);
9. 157.230 Continue to address anti-Traveller and anti-Roma racism and discrimination in the forthcoming national action plan against racism (Finland);
10. 157.231 Take necessary steps to tackle racism and discrimination against Travellers and the Roma community (India);
11. 157.232 Ensure that vulnerable communities, including Travellers, Roma, migrants and refugees, have full access to and are actively informed about their rights, such as in the areas of education and employment (Netherlands);
12. 157.234 Follow up on the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017–2021 to address the intersectional racism and discrimination experienced by Traveller and Roma women (Norway);
13. 157.236 Place special emphasis, in developing the next national Traveller and Roma inclusion strategy, on ensuring access to health care and increasing participation in higher education (Republic of Korea);
14. 157.237 Continue applying the current National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy beyond 2021 until a new strategy is developed (Romania);
15. 157.238 Ensure appropriate resources are allocated to improve the situation of Travellers and Roma regarding employment (Senegal);