Making Sure Young Travellers Are Part of The Conversation

Plan launched to encourage Traveller Youth participation on matters affecting them and their futures.

(27th October 2021) Today the first national plan for young Travellers was launched which aims to encourage their participation in decision-making structures affecting them and their futures. The road map brought together by the Irish Traveller Movement (ITM) and partners hopes to promote young Traveller’s involvement by building their capacity and supporting them to be leaders in their own youth communities and in society.

Many young Travellers face long term and intergenerational exclusion and discrimination and unique challenges not felt by other youth in Ireland.  Approximately 60% are under 25 half the total population, and 23% of 15-24-year olds are married, compared to 1.2% nationally

Launched by the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Roderic O’Gorman the plan hinges on the principle of listening to Traveller children and young people and involving them in decisions about their lives. Initiated by bringing young people around Ireland together in a series of workshops, it’s the first step and first time, a national focus has been developed.

Bernard Joyce Director of the Irish Traveller Movement said “Young Travellers need to be heard on issues of importance to them, but there are few spaces where this happens, or where their views are sought.  We need to encourage their engagement and ensure that’s valued in the wider context of Irish life, and visible in national conversations.”

Young Travellers experience prejudice, discrimination and disadvantage on multiple levels due to their intersectional identity i.e. being a young person, being Traveller and perhaps living with a disability or being LGBT+. They are subjected to widespread discrimination on social media where their ethnic identity is continuously attached to negative reinforcement and are particularly exposed due to their status as digital natives.

In 2020 11% of Ireports to the INAR Racism monitor related to Travellers and 20% of victims overall who made reports, were under 18 years.  During the workshops convened a 17year old female participant said; “In my class, settled children talked about how much their parents hated Travellers. I felt, this is me their parents hate. I would just keep quiet, afraid to say anything, and had no one to confide in. National youth leadership training has given me more confidence over time.”

The legacy of systemic and long-term disadvantage of exclusion which has a detrimental effect on young Traveller’s life chances find many not by choice for them or their parents, have been born into a family where their home has no permanent electricity or heating and up to 3,000 children are living in inadequate, unsafe and impermanent conditions.  

In the last Census only 8% of working-age Travellers versus 73% nationally had reached leaving certificate at second level.[i]  The use by schools of a reduced timetable for Travellers is widespread, necessitating the introduction of guidelines issued by the Minister for Education to be rolled out in January 2022 to curtail the practice, and digital disadvantage caused by Covid a cause of further concerns with the impact on Traveller pupils in leaving cert 2020 and 2021, unknown.

Young Traveller health:  In the national Traveller survey 2017, 7 out of 10 Travellers said, ‘mental health has worsened for the community over the last 5-10 years and 4 in 10 were concerned for their own mental health’ 82% of Travellers had been affected by suicide, 4 in 10 in their wider family. Since then female deaths by suicide have included young children between 11 – 14yrs and reports suggest an increase among those in their late teens and early twenties.  This new acceleration is of much concern given suicide was the cause of 11% of all Traveller deaths in 2010 according to the All-Ireland Traveller Health Study, and most common in men aged 15-25. 

Young Traveller Identity: Travellers also reported in 2017 that many (67%) had to change or modify behaviours to “fit in more”, 4 in 10 said “at school or college” and “accessing goods and services” and 3 in 10 for “where they live”.

Young Travellers in Employment

in 2017 5 out of 10 aged 16-24yrs were not working compared with 6 out of 10 in the year 2000. (National Citizen Traveller survey) and with progression from education to employment minimal. Labour force participation rates for 15 – 24 in Census 2016 were 55% – compared to 32% for the general population in that age group.

For further media information please contact Jacinta Brack 087 27 44791 or at   


 Establishing the need for a National Youth Strategy

1.       Traveller youth while not explicitly excluded from mainstream youth initiatives, have been detached from them with evidence that services and policies need to be Traveller inclusive and designed to meet their specific needs. However, despite concerns no data is available to evaluate their participation in mainstream services.

2.       ITM, its members and partner organisations noted the growing absence of the youth voice in national, local and regional Traveller and non-Traveller spaces, or in decision-making structures affecting them and their futures.   A key driver of concern was the diminished resources for youth infrastructure broadly and the limited opportunities to be part of conversations and structures given the social exclusion experienced.

3.       In response to concerns in 2019 ITM established a Young Travellers’ Forum to engage with and amplify young Traveller voices within the Movement.   This led to the concept and development of the Traveller Youth Participation & Leadership Strategy 2021-25

What is the Traveller Youth Participation & Leadership Strategy 2021-25?

The National Traveller Youth Participation and Leadership Strategyis the first collective national strategy for the Traveller sector.

It’s a road map for the Irish Traveller Movement (ITM), its membership and key national Traveller partners to promote and support Traveller youth participation, capacity building, empowerment and leadership across national policy spaces within the Traveller sector, the Youth sector and in society.

The Strategy supports a rights-based approach to listening to children and young people and involving them in decisions that affect their lives. A first step of which was consultation with young Travellers, and the Traveller and youth sector to identify strategic priorities, desired outcomes, and key actions which would form the basis of the Strategy.

What are the strategic priorities for Traveller Youth Inclusion and Participation

1.      build their capacity to expressing their ideas, opinions and shape activities they’re involved in and decision-making

2.      promote participative approaches in youth programmes

3.      promote inclusive and safe spaces for their engagement in dialogue with peers and decision makers 

Today’s Launch 

The first national Traveller Youth Participation & Leadership Strategy 2021-25 which will take place on Wednesday the 27th of October 2021 by Zoom from 11am-12pm .The event can be accessed via the link

The event is by invite only and will be attended by stakeholders across Traveller, civil society, youth sectors and media. For further media information please contact Jacinta Brack, or at 087 27 44791