Government response on Traveller Ethnicity unacceptable - Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his “anger and deep disappointment” at the Taoiseach’s confirmation today that the issue of Traveller ethnicity will not be dealt with by the government for at least six months.
The Sinn Féin leader described the decision as unacceptable and called on the government to honour previous commitments on this and to move speedily toward the formal recognition of the ethnicity of the Traveller community.
Speaking in the Dáil today (Tuesday) Gerry Adams said:
“The former Minister of State Aodhán Ó RÍordáin told the Traveller community 20 months ago that Traveller ethnicity would be recognised within six months.
“And now the Taoiseach has raised the prospect of this issue not being dealt with for another six months. This is unacceptable.
“John Connors recent excellent documentary on Travellers underlined the unique ethnicity of the Traveller community, that very valued part of our society, and the failure of successive governments to formally recognise this.
“Last week the European Commission said that it may initiate proceedings against this state for discrimination against Travellers.
“The Commission has begun an investigation into possible breaches of EU rules on racial equality on the basis that Travellers face discrimination in respect to housing, employment and access to goods and services.
“None of that will come as any surprise to Travellers or anyone else who has an eye to fairness and understands the challenges Travellers face.
“The Commission specifically references the ten deaths in the horrific fire at Carrickmines this time last year and the appalling decision by Louth County Council to evict 23 families from the Woodland Park halting site in Dundalk in January.
“Legislation is not needed for the government to recognise Traveller ethnicity.
“The Commission’s decision follows on from the landmark judgement in the summer by the European Committee of Social Rights into the violation of Travellers rights by the government.
“The committee found that the government has failed to provide enough accommodation for Travellers, that many of the sites provided are in a poor condition and that legal safeguards for Travellers threatened with eviction are insufficient.
“The decision to put off again official recognition by the government of Traveller ethnicity is discriminatory and shameful.”