Council of Europe Human Rights Chief Hears of Irish Traveller Inequality at Start of Country Monitoring

Tuesday, 22nd November 2016 –  The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has heard, on the first day of his four-day country monitoring mission to Ireland, of the need for the Irish Government to act on recognising Traveller ethnicity.

Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, met this afternoon with Members of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) and its Chief Commissioner Emily Logan.

Commissioner Muižnieks has confirmed to the Commission that a key focus of his country monitoring, running from the 22nd to 25th of November, will be on the human rights of Travellers.

The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner heard directly from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission of the need for the Government to further challenge continued discrimination and the denial of rights to Travellers, in particular around education, health and housing, and that recognition of Traveller ethnicity was a vital step in this.

Speaking following the meeting at the offices of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Chief Commissioner Emily Logan stated:

“Ireland stands today out of step with Northern Ireland, the UK and other EU partners in not recognising the ethnicity of Travellers as our own indigenous community.

“Cross-party support for recognition of Traveller ethnicity was confirmed in the Oireachtas report on this issue from 2014, but today we have emphasised to the Council of Europe, through our meeting with its Human Rights Commissioner, our continuing concern over inaction in this area.

“An Oireachtas Justice and Equality hearing in October heard that there appears to be no legal impediment to recognition of Traveller ethnicity, International bodies continue to recognise the Traveller community as an ethnic minority and have consistently recommended that the Irish State should do likewise.

“The logic of the Irish State’s ongoing refusal to recognise Traveller ethnicity must be questioned, and it is now up to those who would refuse this recognition to justify their reasons.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to editor:

Photo caption:

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and Commission Members met today (Tuesday 22nd) with the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks on the first day of his country monitoring mission to Ireland, where the issue of State recognition of Traveller ethnicity was key on the agenda.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC)

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) was set up on 1 November 2014 as an independent public body to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding across Irish society.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014 sets out the functions of the Commission, i.e. to ensure that:

  • there is respect for, and protection of, everyone’s human rights;
  • there is respect for the dignity and worth of each person;
  • a person’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice, discrimination, or neglect;
  • everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to take part in the economic, political, social or cultural life of the State; and
  • people respect each other, respect equality and human rights, and understand the value of diversity within society

The IHREC is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

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