Formal recognition of Traveller ethnicity ‘an important first step’ – Mac Lochlainn
Speaking on the Sinn Féin PMB on the need to recognise Traveller ethnicity and to ensure that the Community is no longer denied their rights, Sinn Féin TD and Justice Spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has called upon the government to recognise Traveller ethnicity in order to kick start ‘a positive realignment of the relationship between the settled community and the Traveller community in Ireland’.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“In 2013, the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality held a number of hearings on the issue of this State recognising the ethnicity of our Travelling community.
“The devastating tragedy at Carrickmines and the response by a significant minority of our people can only have reinforced the deep concern of the 40,000 men, women, and children that make up our Travelling community across this island.
“This State has maintained a position for decades that amounts to ethnicity denial without having presented any evidence based defence of this position to our international partners and indeed the travelling community.
“As part of our deliberations, the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality examined a number of the excuses or concerns; that it is not in the best interests of Travellers, that granting Traveller ethnicity would be too costly to the State, that Traveller ethnicity is not proven, the need for full consensus amongst Travellers.
“The Joint Committee agreed with those who gave evidence to the Joint Committee, and found each potential excuse or concern to be unsustainable when tested.
“Although the policy of this State towards our travelling community has come a long way since the dark days of the Commission of Itinerancy, much work remains to be done.
“The formal recognition by this State of Traveller ethnicity will not be a magic wand or formula that on its own can address all of those challenges, but it will be a major step in the right direction and a permanent and positive realignment of the relationship between the settled community and the Traveller community in Ireland.”