Sinn Féin - On Your Side

de Brún calls for positive action on eve of International Roma Day

7 April, 2006

On International Roma Day, Bairbre de Brún has called for "positive action" to improve the status of Romani people across Europe.

The Sinn Féin MEP said, "The past year has seen little improvement in conditions for Europe's Roma communities. More worryingly, there are few indications that the problem is getting the consideration it deserves. The desperate inequalities faced by these communities appear to rank far down the list of priorities, both on government and international levels.

"In Kosovo, Roma refugees continue to be housed in camps built upon a toxic waste dump - with horrifying health consequences, particularly for the children. Last year the UN Secretary General in Kosovo asked for all western governments to contribute ?500,000 to their rehousing. The Dublin government - one of the wealthiest in the world - has disgracefully given only half that amount.

"In Slovakia, evidence has been presented of ongoing coerced sterilisation of Romani women, which the Slovak government continues to deny. In Bulgarian elections last year an ultra-right party campaigning on an anti-Roma platform won 9% of the vote and 22 out of 240 seats.

"And the problem is not limited to Eastern Europe. In France, the Roma are subject to racist legislation which inhibits their freedom of movement and voting rights, while in many Greek schools Romani children are placed in segregated classes.

"It is not all bad news, however. In Spain, a programme aimed at improving the employment prospects of Romani youths has exceeded expectations. And I welcome the Czech Republic's initial steps toward addressing its own history of coerced sterilisation, although more progress in this regard is needed. These are small advances with huge potential. If the governments of Europe will commit to taking positive action, much more can be achieved.

"Sinn Féin sends its greetings today to the Roma people in Ireland and throughout Europe." ENDS

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