Travellers are Ireland’s indigenous minority who have lived as a distinct ethnic group for upwards of a thousand years. They have long been subject to massive racist discrimination and bigotry, resulting in major economic, social and political deprivation and disadvantage.
Statistics on life expectancy, health, employment, educational attainment and poverty all confirm that Travellers are one of the most oppressed groups in Irish society. This oppression has been added to in recent years by huge cuts in services to Travellers. This racism and oppression must be fought and reversed.
- Reverse Cuts to Traveller Supports. Over the period 2008-2013 when overall government spending was cut by 4.3%, programmes for Travellers were cut as follows: Education -86%, Accommodation -85%, Equality initiatives -76.3%, National Traveller organisations -63.6%, FAS special initiatives for Travellers -50%, Traveller Interagency activities – 100%. This level of cuts was vastly disproportionate to any other section of society and demonstrated a clear disinvestment by the State in the Traveller community which has had detrimental impacts. These resources must new be re-established as an urgent priority.
- End State Racism. There is an established and deep rooted institutional racism against Travellers which is quite complex. It is racism from the top down, backed through the institutions of the state, the capitalist system and the media where government policies create the conditions for racism to take root and grow. Equality legislation from 1998 formally made discrimination against Travellers an offence. Contrary to this, the rise of anti-Traveller racism among arms of the state has been alarming. This must be ended immediately.
- Independent National Housing Agency. The establishment of an Independent National Housing Agency is essential to oversee the delivery of safe and culturally appropriate Traveller Accommodation.
- Enquiry into Carrickmines Tragedy. A public enquiry must be conducted into the Carrickmines tragedy.
- Political Representation. Travellers with relevant expertise and selected by the National Traveller organisations to be co-opted into the Seanad to be represented on relevant government committees and to be visible within the relevant state departments;
- Zero Tolerance to Traveller Racism. A policy of zero tolerance on racism where (1) politicians who play the anti-Traveller card to win votes should be held accountable – expelled/banned for going for public office (2) media bias which feeds prejudice and discrimination against Travellers will be challenged and offenders held accountable.