Govt must prioritise Traveller and Roma inclusion, says SF TD
2017-12-15 17:25:05 -

Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader has called for the Government to make implementation of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy a priority for the first months of 2018.


Addressing the annual ‘Women for Election Year in Review’ event at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin recently, Mary Lou McDonald said: “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 [2017], Traveller 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.”


The Dublin Central TD noted research by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and ESRI that has found Irish Travellers “report very high rates of discrimination in seeking work, where they are 10 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.”


McDonald added: “We know from the 2016 CSO figures that there is an 80 per cent 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 four times higher than the death rate among infants in the general population.”


Describing the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy as “a positive step in progressing the rights of the community beyond recognition”, McDonald urged for the Government to make its implementation a priority in the New Year.


“However,” she added, “as the 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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