ICCL welcomes ‘historic announcement’ on Traveller ethnicity.
Wednesday 1 March 2017
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has welcomed this evening’s expected statement [1 March 2017 6.45pm] by the Taoiseach that the Irish State is to formally recognise Travellers as an ethnic group.
The historic failure to properly recognise Travellers as an ethnic group, indigenous to the island of Ireland, has long been viewed by the ICCL as contrary to international human rights law. This failure has served to fuel the mistrust, marginalisation and overt discrimination which has been the hallmark of relations between the majority ‘settled’ population and the Traveller community.
Speaking in advance of the Taoiseach’s expected statement in Leinster House, Executive Director of the ICCL, Mr Liam Herrick, said
“Today’s announcement is truly historic event to be welcomed by all those who wish to see a society based on inclusion and respect. Recognition of Traveller ethnicity by the Government is a powerful statement that the history and tradition of Travellers is to be acknowledged, respected and valued. The recognition of Traveller ethnicity should mark a turning point in the treatment of Travellers in Irish society.”
The announcement comes in the wake of a long campaign by Traveller representative organisations and repeated calls by human rights campaigners including the ICCL at a national and international level that Government take the necessary steps to formally recognise Traveller ethnicity in line with its human rights obligations.
Noting the acute marginalisation of Travellers by successive Governments stretching back more than half a century, Mr Herrick said
“This important step signals a final moving away from government policies over the past 50 years which viewed Travellers as the object of assimilationist policies. Work on the many issues that bar Travellers from full inclusion in Irish society, can now progress on the basis of respect, trust and equality” he added.
Recalling the efforts by campaigners over many years, including the ICCL, Mr Herrick went on to note:
“The announcement should also be viewed as a ringing endorsement of the long and tireless campaign for recognition by Travellers, Traveller representative organisations and their allies including the ICCL. However, the highest praise must be reserved for Travellers and their representative organisations, including the Irish Traveller Movement, Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, the National Traveller Women’s Forum and Minceirs Whiden, who have never given up hope of achieving greater equality for Travellers.”
Liam Herrick, Executive Director
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Note to Editors
There will be statements on Traveller issues at 6.45 pm in the Dáil this evening (Wednesday 1 March 2017) at 6.45pm. Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD will make a formal statement. The gallery in Dáil Eireann will be attended by Travellers and Traveller Representative organisations.