ITM Statement in reply to findings of Internal Garda Study on attitudes towards Travellers in 2014

The Irish Traveller Movement note the findings today on an internal study by the then Garda Ethnic Liaison Office. The report which found high levels of negative attitudes towards Travellers at the time, established that allnof the Gardaí interviewed for the study held those attitudes in advance of taking up their positions and remained negative as serving Gardaí.

The Irish Traveller Movement have long reported concerns and studies which have established ingrained negative views towards Travellers within policing, in community engagement, civil and legal matters, of racial profiling and an inconsistent response to the community where policing is required, sometimes during times of trauma and bereavement. These have impacted in some part on Travellers ability to have confidence in policing supports and police protection.

Conscious or unconscious bias has been catalogued in national studies of Travellers own attitudes and show how access to services within the State including the Gardai, have given rise to discriminatory practice, borne of perceived bias.

The high incidence of racial profiling by the Gardaí targeted at Travellers and other ethnic groups, and their disproportionate high representation in the prison system was raised last December (2019) by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its Concluding observations on Ireland. It cited “regrets of the lack of detailed information on legislative, disciplinary or other measures taken by the State party to prevent, prohibit and monitor ethnic profiling by the police force” and raised concerns “about the absence of legislation proscribing racial profiling, and of independent complaint mechanisms dealing with racial profiling and the lack of statistics”

The Irish Traveller Movement welcomed the Garda Diversity and Integration Strategy 2019-2021 and continued efforts to redress cultural awareness training as part of its 2020 strategies. However key recommendations of the CERD Committee to the State party called for the full implementation of the Garda Diversity and Integration Strategy 2019-2021; including to collect disaggregated data on racial profiling and regularly publish it and to provide the data in its next CERD periodic report.

It recommended the Introduction of legislation prohibiting racial profiling with an independent complaints mechanism; a review, with affected communities, of police policy, practices and training; and to incorporate racial profiling issues into the training.

Today’s report affirms the urgent need for those recommendations to be implemented in their entirety, and to see through the introduction of a robust framework with proper oversight to ensure consequences where negative attitudes within the Gardai exist, cease to impact on the type of service and protection afforded to Travellers, Roma and other minority groups, as different to others within the State.

For further information please contact Jacinta Brack on 087 27 44791 or at Jacinta@itmtrav.ie