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Traveller Ethnicity a matter of Equality- Mayor Holland

5 November, 2015 - by Sarah Holland

Mayor of South Dublin County Council, Cllr Sarah Holland has expressed profound disappointment that the Government voted down the Sinn Féin Bill to recognise Traveller Ethnicity.

She said

 “Recognising that Travellers have a distinct ethnicity would have been a welcome first step towards equality for these communities.

 It would have forced people to confront their own “them & us” negative stereotypes.

 The tragedy at Carrickmines, rather than galvanising positive action, showed an uncomfortable underbelly of racism against Travellers”.

 The Bill contained several key recommendations, including recognising that a root cause of many of the problems facing Travellers is the widespread levels of prejudice, discrimination and social exclusion experienced by them at institutional and other levels of Irish society and that the State has failed in its responsibility to treat Irish Travellers as full and equal citizens.

Statistics show that Travellers have an expected life span of 10-15 years lower than the national average and suicide rates are more than 6 times higher, according to an All Ireland Traveller Health study.

 Cllr Holland went on to say,

 “Let’s call a spade a spade. It would have been so easy for the Government to do the right thing here, but they are afraid to face down the snobbishness and discrimination that they themselves encourage at local level by opposing Traveller accommodation and pandering to fear and elitism.

 “There are over 40,000 Travellers in Ireland and their distinct language and way of life adds immensely to the richness of our culture and heritage.

 We should be celebrating their diversity, and instead we are facilitating their isolation”

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