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Adams calls for early decision on Traveller ethnicity

7 February, 2017 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today raised the issue of Traveller ethnicity with the Taoiseach in the Dáil.

The Sinn Féin leader welcomed the meeting between the Taoiseach and Traveller NGOs on Monday evening but expressed “disappointment that the government has again breeched its commitment to taking a decision on this issue”.

Gerry Adams said:

“The recent report by the ESRI highlighted the many areas of inequality and disadvantage confronting the Traveller community. Crucially, the report supports Traveller ethnicity.

“Prior to Christmas, I raised this issue with the Taoiseach who said that he expected to be in a position to bring a report to the Dáil on this matter by the end of January.

“It’s now February 7th and we still have no report. The Taoiseach today said that he expected to be bringing a memo to Government shortly.

“The delay in agreeing Traveller ethnicity is unacceptable. Then Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin told the Traveller community two years ago that Traveller ethnicity would be recognised within 6 months.

“This has still not happened. Last autumn, 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 decision follows on from the landmark judgement last 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.

“There is an imperative on the Government to stop stalling on a decision on Traveller ethnicity, and to conclude that work and announce official recognition of Traveller ethnicity.” 

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