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Recognition as ethnic minority required to tackle Traveller inequalities – Ó Snodaigh

26 June, 2007

Responding to a Report from the Parish of the Travelling People which draws attention to the starkly unequal life expectancies and health outcomes experienced by members of the Traveller Community Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh called on the new Government to officially recognise Travelling People as an ethnic minority deserving full protection under the UN Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "The contention of the report's co-author Ms. Brack that the government must legally recognise the Traveller community as an ethnic minority for real progress to be made in terms of achieving greater equality across a range of issues is a position which Sinn Féin fully endorses. Both Sinn Féin and the Green Party made this legal recognition of the traveller community as a minority ethnic group an explicit commitment of our respective election manifestos. And we are disappointed that the Programme for Government agreed by Fianna, Fáil, the PDs and the Green Party contains no such commitment. In fact the Programme for Government contains just one reference to the Travelling community and this relates to Traveller accommodation but even this does not offer any increase of funding to ensure delivery.

"Given the significant wealth in this country Traveller health outcomes are truly unjustifiable. If the shocking health outcomes and life expectancies highlighted by this report are to be turned around the new Government must officially recognise Travelling people as an ethnic minority deserving of protection under the UN Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination. They must also repeal the sections of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2002 which criminalise the Traveller way of life and establish a statutory Traveller Agency, including representatives of Traveller organisations to monitor, coordinate and enforce Government policy relating to Travellers including the Traveller Health Strategy and Traveller Accommodation Plans." ENDS

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