IHREC (designate) welcomes call for recognition of Traveller ethnicity by Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC designate) today welcomed the recommendation of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality that the State officially recognise Travellers as an ethnic group. The Joint Oireachtas Committee held a number of hearings on the matter of Traveller ethnicity during 2013, and today published its report with three key recommendations:

  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.

  2. That the Government then writes to the relevant international bodies, confirming that the State recognises the ethnicity of the travelling community.

  3. That the Government build on these initiates and commence a time- limited dialogue with the traveller representative groups about the new legislation or amendments to existing legislation now required.”

David Joyce, Acting Chair of the IHREC (designate) stated “This is a significant day for the Traveller community. Traveller organisations have long called for recognition of Traveller ethnicity as a means to ensuring Travellers’ rights are fully protected in law and practice, and the Traveller way of life is acknowledged and respected. Both the Equality Authority and the Irish Human Rights Commission, based on their respective mandates, called on the State to recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority in their submissions to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. The Oireachtas Committee, after careful consideration of those submissions, has unreservedly come to the same conclusion on the matter. We also wish to acknowledge the work of the Joint Oireachtas Committee in taking this initiative. This report and recommendations demonstrate the value of having an Oireachtas Committee to examine equality and human rights issues in a deliberative way outside the more pressured environment of government business. The IHREC (designate) looks forward to engaging more with this and other Oireachtas Committees into the future. ”

Mr Joyce continued, “It is now a matter for the Minister for Justice and Equality to consider the findings of the Report by the Oireachtas Committee together with members of the Traveller community, and to act positively on the recommendations made today. The IHREC (designate) will also seek to have those recommendations implemented, noting that this is an issue that will most likely be raised yet again by the UN, when Ireland is examined by the Human Rights Committee in July of this year under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”.

Mr Joyce concluded by stating “the IHREC (designate) agrees with the Joint Oireachtas Committee that recognition of ethnicity is just a first step, however we believe it is a crucial one, and will bring Ireland in line with its human rights and equality obligations, and open the way for a more respectful and positive engagement between the Traveller community and the State into the future.

ENDS/ 

Notes to editor

  • In 2004 the IHRC published a Discussion Paper on Traveller Ethnicity: Travellers as an ethnic minority under the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: A Discussion Paper.

  • In 2006 the Equality Authority published an extensive research report on Traveller Ethnicity entitled: Traveller Ethnicity: An Equality Authority Report.

  • In 2013 the IHRC made a Submission to Government on Traveller Ethnicity; Submission on the Recognition of the Traveller Community as an Ethnic Minority in the State, January 2013.

  • The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has recommended twice that the State recognise Travellers as an ethnic Minority: Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2005), CERD/C/IRL/CO/2. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2012), CERD/C/IRL/CO/3-4.

  • In 2008 the Human Rights Committee recommended that Ireland recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority: Human Rights Committee, CCPR/C/IRL/CO/3

  • The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice Defence and Equality and have held two previous hearings on recognition of Traveller Ethnicity.

  • On 17 2013, the Committee heard from Traveller organisations

  • On 12 June 2013 the Committee heard from academics on the topic of Traveller ethnicity .

  • On 13 November 2013 the Committee heard evidence from the Equality Authority and the Irish Human Rights Commission.

     

     

     

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