Recognising Traveller Ethnicity
National Traveller MABS welcomes the recommendation by the Justice Oireachtas Committee for the Irish State to Recognise Traveller Ethnicity
On Thursday April 17th, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Traveller Ethnicity published its report. It unanimously recommends that the State recognises Traveller Ethnicity.
This is a major achievement for the Traveller community as despite repeated recommendations - from international bodies such as The Human Rights Committee, ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) and domestic human rights groups - the State has never explicitly recognised Traveller ethnicity.
The report notes that the UK courts have recognised Irish Travellers as an ethnic minority for more than a decade
It outlines three steps on how formal State recognition of Traveller ethnicity could be brought about.
- Step 1: That either the Taoiseach or the Minister for Justice and Equality make a statement to Dáil Éireann confirming that this State recognises the ethnicity of the Travelling community.
- Step 2: That the Government then writes to the relevant international bodies, confirming that this State recognises the ethnicity of the Travelling community.
- Step 3: That the Government build on these initiatives and commence a time-limited dialogue with the Traveller representative groups about the new legislation or amendments to existing legislation now required.
Commenting on the report, Padráig Mac Lochlainn, TD, and rapporteur for the Committee, explained that the group had drawn on "overwhelming" evidence in favour of recognition from human rights practitioners, legal experts and Traveller groups. He stated that: "The recommendations outlined in this report should now be acted upon swiftly. It is no longer tenable for this State to deny Traveller ethnicity. It is long past time for this State to fully honour our responsibilities to the international conventions on human rights and to truly value and protect our Traveller communities".
This report is timely as Ireland is due to appear before the Human Rights Committee in Geneva in July 2014 examining progress on the matter of ethnicity recognition
Irish Traveller Movement Director Brigid Quilligan said: "Following the recommendations of this report and in light of strong support from domestic and other international human rights bodies and conventions, we are hopeful that the Minster will now formally recognise Travellers as an ethnic group".
Membership of the Justice Oireachtas Committee included David Stanton TD (Chairman), Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD (Rapporteur), Anne Ferris TD (Vice Chairman) Niall Collins TD, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD, Alan Farrell TD, Seán Kenny TD, Finian McGrath TD, John Paul Phelan TD, Senators: Ivana Bacik, Katherine Zappone, Martin Conway, Tony Mulcahy, Rónán Mullen and Denis O'Donovan.
You can also watch this YouTube video for more information on Traveller Ethnicity.