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Government must reassess how Travellers are treated in Irish society – Ó Caoláin

3 November, 2015 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Speaking in the Dáil tonight on Sinn Féin’s PMB to promote equal treatment for the Travelling Community, Sinn Féin TD for Cavan/Monaghan Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called upon the government to review how Travellers are treated in Irish society and to bring forward policies to ensure this state truly values and protects Traveller Communities.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“The tragic loss of life in the Carrickmines fire has brought a renewed focus on the issue of traveller’s rights. This indigenous minority has been part of Irish society for centuries but for far too long has been marginalised and has suffered the worst forms of discrimination that cannot and should not be tolerated in any modern society.  

“While examples of discrimination and marginalisation are plentiful, one of the most telling examples of how travellers suffer disproportionately is demonstrated in the widespread health problems and appalling premature death rates recorded among their number.

“The issues of mental health and suicide are tearing the heart out of Traveller communities. Suicide among Travellers is 6 times the rate of the general population and accounts for approximately 11% of all Traveller deaths.

“While shame and stigma around mental health is rampant across society as a whole, it would appear that within travelling communities it is even worse. In addition, those affected and who seek help are left totally frustrated as service providers very often do not understand Traveller culture. What is urgently needed to stem this tide of suicide are culturally appropriate counselling services across Ireland.

“All of the above issues must be addressed. Pavee Point has advocated for policies and practices to be underpinned by an inter-cultural approach and by principles of equality, diversity and anti-racism. This is absolutely what is needed. The travelling community should be front and centre in the development of health services and practices designed and geared to their service.

“I am calling on TDs from all parties and none to give their support to this motion and to show their solidarity with the Travelling Community at this time.” 

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