Sinn Féin Justice and Equality spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD has welcomed the historic call by the all-party Oireachtas Justice Committee that the State recognises the ethnicity of the Travelling community. The Committee launched their report and recommendations today.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn, who is the report rapporteur of the Committee says:
“The formal recognition by the State of Traveller ethnicity will not be a magic wand or formula that can address the challenges faced by the Traveller community. But it would be a major step forward and a permanent and positive realignment of the relationship between the settled community and the Traveller community in Ireland.”
The Donegal TD added;
“It is clear that the national policy debate has moved on from the Commission on Itinerancy of 1963* which said Travellers do not constitute an ethnic group. Many of the findings of the 1963 Commission are deeply offensive and largely rejected by modern Ireland. However, the insistence of the State on not recognising the ethnicity of Travellers has remained for decades. This position has amounted to ethnicity denial.
“It is no longer tenable for this State to deny Traveller ethnicity. It is long past time for this State to fully honour our responsibilities to the international conventions on human rights and to truly value and protect our Traveller communities.”