Commission Challenges Government to Recognise Traveller Ethnicity

“No legal impediment to recognition” states Chief Commissioner

Continued inaction by the State on recognising Traveller ethnicity diminishes the State’s international credibility, the Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has today warned.

Just over one year on from the deaths of 10 people at a temporary halting site in Carrickmines, Chief Commissioner Emily Logan addressed the Joint-Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality and challenged the Government to end prevarication on the issue.

Speaking alongside Commission Member David Joyce, the Chief Commissioner stated:

“There appears to be no legal impediment to recognition of Traveller ethnicity. This important legal change to recognise our indigenous Traveller community does not require a referendum, it does not even require primary legislation. The government committed in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011 to recognise Traveller ethnicity. What is required is not even a Ministerial Order, but a statement in the Dáil. It therefore begs the question why this has not happened.”

Chief Commissioner Emily Logan went on to state: “Respect for Travellers’ cultural identity must be reflected in Government policy decisions. But how can this happen in the absence of recognition of Traveller ethnicity? It is the Commission’s position that it cannot.”

The Chief Commissioner called for political leadership on the unequivocal recognition of a distinct culture and identity for Travellers in Ireland:

“The recognition of Traveller ethnicity in Ireland must be placed within the broader international context of discussion of ‘others’, ‘outsiders’ and ‘division’, this is an opportunity for us to show our national political leadership, and set ourselves as a standard bearer, against those who would seek to hold back progress towards equality and human rights provision.”


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Notes to editor:

The Justice & Equality Committee meeting was conducted in public session in Committee Room 2, and is available for viewing on the Oireachtas website:

Chief Commissioner Emily Logan and Commission Member David Joyce BL presented to the Joint-Oireachtas Committee.

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

IHREC is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognized as such by the United Nations.