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Implementation of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy must be prioritised by Government - Mary Lou McDonald TD

13 December, 2017 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Addressing the annual 'Women for Election Year in Review' event in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy‘s implementation to be prioritised Government.  

The Dublin Central TD said:

“Women for Election continue to make an important contribution not only to the increasing the numbers of women participating in national and local politics but also to the supports required to assist women on their electoral journey.

“Strategies to increase the number of women in politics must include the need for diversity within the political system. Our political institutions must reflect the society it represents.

“In March of this year traveler ethnicity was finally recognised by the State. This was a momentous milestone for the Traveller community and its importance to combatting discrimination cannot be understated. 

“However ethnicity recognition in itself will not end the common and casual discrimination faced on a daily basis by the Traveller community. 

“Research the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and ESRI has found that Irish  Travellers  report  very  high  rates  of  discrimination  in  seeking  work,  where  they  are  ten  times   more   likely   than   White   Irish   to   experience    discrimination. Travellers were also 22   times   more   likely   to   report   discrimination,   particularly in shops, pubs and restaurants despite the legislative protections of the Equality Acts.

“We know from the 2016 CSO figures that there is an 80% unemployment rate in the Traveller community. Traveller men will die on average 15 years sooner than the general population, and Traveller women 11 years earlier. The death rate among Traveller infants is over 4 times higher than the death rate among infants in the general population.

“The National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy is a positive step in progressing the rights of the community beyond recognition. It’s implementation must be prioritised.  However as UN Committee reporting on the Irish Government’s performance under the Convention On Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women has said, its implementation must be monitored and regularly evaluated.

“Action 98 of the Strategy commits the Government to support the development of community leadership in gender equality with men and women from the Traveller and Roma communities with a view to developing gender equality. Organisations like Women for Election and politicians alike have a collective responsibility to ensure that women Travellers achieve their potential in environments that are free from discrimination.”

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