Irish Traveller Movement Statement on International Human Rights Day 2020

Today 10th December 2020 marks International Human Rights Day and is an important day to remind all of us that not everyone has the same human rights.  

Travellers make up less than 1% of the total population in the Republic; however, we are over-represented in national homeless figures, in suicide, health, unemployment and education and Traveller families live in what can be described as inhumane living conditions.  

Recognising and realising all citizens’ human rights is essential for a fair and equitable society for all. People in Ireland overwhelmingly (95%) believe that human rights are important for creating a fairer society, according to a new national Amárach poll published today by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Irish Traveller Movement (ITM) is a network of local and national Traveller organisations working together to address high levels of social exclusion and inequality experienced by the Traveller community in Ireland.  

We call for everyone to stand up for human rights and ensure those rights are protected and enshrined in legislation and national policy.  We ask you to join our online campaign to remind this government, civil society and elected representatives of the stark reality of Traveller life in Ireland;  

  •  Over 2,000 families, of which there are upwards of 3,000 children, are living in inadequate, unsafe and impermanent conditions. And 927 families are Sharing Housing in overcrowded conditions, with grandparents, parents, siblings and grandchildren.
  •  Only 50% will reach beyond 38yrs.
  •  82% remain unemployed, before and after austerity.
  •  Suicide is overall 6 times higher than the settled population and was the cause of 11% of all Traveller deaths (2010) and most common in young men aged 15-25
  • In 2017 Travellers were over 50 times more likely to leave school without a Leaving Certificate compared to non-Travellers
  • In 2019 Travellers accounted for 19% of children in Oberstown Children Detention Campus. By comparison, Travellers account for just over 1% of the population aged 12 to 18
  • Travellers are 22 times more likely to be discriminated against by landlords accessing private rented or emergency accommodation. Also, only a very small proportion of social housing and private rental stock consists of large dwellings that would be suitable to accommodate larger Traveller families, a major disadvantage and leading to increased homelessness. 
  • In a 2017 survey, 70% felt discriminated against by the Gardaí, 48% in the past year.   

Ireland must apply human rights standards to all, not just some of its citizens, and tackle systemic and institutionalised racism, and widespread exclusion and discrimination.

Please stand with us today to call for  

  • Introduction of Hate Crime legislation, where Travellers are named for specific protection and Establish a National Anti-Racism Strategy
  • Prioritise funding to examine the distinct needs of young Travellers vulnerable to suicide and
  • Introduction of legislation to ensure An Garda Síochána are no longer exempt from the Equal Status Act and future equality legislation
  • Prioritise a national audit of Traveller suicide and commission “at-risk” research within the community and develop a nationally targeted suicide prevention campaign for Travellers
  • Making a home a constitutional right and Implement the Recommendations of the Government Expert Review of Traveller Accommodation

#StandUp4HumanRights #StandUpForTravellers #HumanRightsDay