Council of Europe Body visits Ireland to assess adequate and culturally appropriate accommodation for Roma and Traveller Communities

Commission meets Council of Europe Committee to discuss State protection of National Minorities

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) will today meet with the expert Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), to discuss Ireland’s progress in promoting and protecting minority rights.

Under the FCNM, Ireland submits periodic reports describing the measures implemented over the previous five years, with reference to the Council of Europe’s recommendations, and covering matters pertaining to the Traveller and Roma communities. Ireland’s 5th report was submitted in July of this year.

The Advisory Committee will meet with IHREC, civil society and community representative groups and other bodies for discussions, which will include accessing the provision of suitable, fit-for-purpose accommodation that takes account of these communities’ specific needs.

Key priorities for the Commission include the continued lack of appropriate accommodation for Travellers, the extremely poor living conditions that both Traveller and Roma groups suffer and the significant challenges they face in accessing justice, including Civil Legal Aid.

We have regularly raised concerns that while the full Traveller accommodation budget is now being drawn down, this is often spent on refurbishment rather than building new units, meaning that demand for accommodation is not being met. Previously we have highlighted issues relating to extremely poor living conditions, including damp, mould, lack of cooking facilities, inadequate sanitation, rat and fly infestations, insecure electricity and irregular rubbish collection. Similarly, Roma families continue to live in overcrowded conditions, sometimes without access to electricity, running water or sanitation.

Traveller and Roma minority groups are significantly over represented in the homeless population and there is a lack of safeguards governing evictions. In addition, the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 governing trespass, indirectly discriminates against Travellers by criminalising an intrinsic way of life of this group.

Other priority issues for us include the fact that the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 does not apply to eviction proceedings, which can have a disproportionate effect on Travellers – especially as they can occur as soon as 24 hours after notice is served. In addition, legal aid is not available for claims made in the Workplace Commission, a key avenue through which Travellers and Roma invoke their rights under equality legislation.

Noting the significant access to justice issues these groups face, we have recommended that the State broaden its rules of legal standing to allow representatives of trade unions and NGOs to take actions on behalf of named complainants, as well as in the organisation’s own name. We also recommend a broad prohibition on discrimination on the grounds of criminal conviction.

Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney said:

We are delighted to meet today with the FCNM Advisory Committee to discuss the State’s 2023 evaluation report as part of the 5th monitoring cycle.

We reiterate that it is unacceptable that the State continues to fail to provide appropriate accommodation for Traveller and Roma families. The standard of accommodation that some families are living in is both shocking and shameful to see in Ireland, a wealthy developed democracy.

“The extremely slow progress, in fully securing Traveller and Roma rights, following decades of deprivation, discrimination and poverty, indicates a State which continues to resist upholding its basic human rights obligations to our most vulnerable minority groups.”

“Here at the Commission we will continue to liaise with the FCNM Advisory Committee and use our powers to ensure that the State addresses the structural shortcomings in the identification of the housing and justice needs of Travellers and Roma groups.


Photos will be distributed after the event

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Clarkin, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8592641 / 087 4687760

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Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission 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