Irish Traveller Movement statement – Together Against Racism

21st March 2021, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Founded in 1990, the Irish Traveller Movement is the national advocacy and membership platform and brings together Travellers and representative organisations to develop collective solutions on issues faced by the community to achieve greater equality for Travellers. We represent Traveller interests in national governmental, international and human rights settings. We challenge racism- individual, cultural and structural- which Travellers face and promote integration and equality.

On 21st March 1960, sixty-nine people were killed and eighty were wounded in South Africa while peacefully protesting against Apartheid. The Security Council of the United Nations, in an unprecedented move, condemned the Sharpeville Massacre and the South African government for this action.

21st March was declared the “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” in 1966 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. In the 48 years since the establishment of this day, much has changed, but the struggle to end racial discrimination continues for Travellers.

Today we are reminding our allies of the significant importance of addressing the racial divide and the inequality that exists within Irish Society. The Irish Traveller Movement stands shoulder to shoulder with all experiencing racism and pledge our support to other marginalised groups. We commend all those that strive to bring about change and we salute you.  This is a lifetime’s struggle advocating for equality and human rights. 

The hatred of Travellers is ingrained in Irish society and is reflected in how society treats our community. While people are aware and act against global injustice and inequality, they can often fail to recognise the deep-rooted prejudice and discrimination within Ireland and this backed up by research and data analysis in the past decade:

  • 53% of Travellers had experienced discrimination in licensed premises from pub staff, 51% from hotel staff and 43% from staff of discos/clubs.
  • Ireland had the second highest rate of reported discrimination within EU countries surveyed – 68 % of men and 62% of women and 46% of respondents stating they would feel “uncomfortable” with Roma and Travellers as neighbours.
  • 4 out of 10 Travellers said they or their children had been bullied in school because of their identity.
  • The Irish Human Right Equality Commission found that “Travellers are ten times more likely than White Irish to experience discrimination seeking work. Of a national representation sample of non-Travellers, only 17% they would employ a Traveller.
  • Over 2,000 families are living in inadequate, unsafe and impermanent conditions in shared and overcrowded accommodation or on roadsides.
  • According to health statistics, half of the Traveller population will die before reaching the age of 38 years and 70% of won’t reach the age of 59 years.

Travellers are exposed to racist hate speech daily, in person and online. There currently is no workable law in Ireland to protect people fromhate speech online which purposefully dehumanises any group of people. We need to heighten awareness of the harmful effects of racism on a national scale and ask the Government to clearly demonstrate the commitment and leadership required to bring about the necessary changes in legislation to foster racial justice, respect, equality and diversity and reduce harmful hate speech in Ireland.

The Irish Traveller Movement has continued to call for hate crime legislation to be enacted and a national anti-racism strategy is urgently required. This will enable the building of a more inclusive, fair, and just society for all.

Today on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, under this year’s theme of “Youth standing up against racism”, we encourage all of our allies to support by taking a photo with your colleagues, family and friends using #TogetherAgainst Racism and share this message of solidarity on social media platforms.