UN welcomes Irish recognition of Traveller ethnicity

Taoiseach made the declaration in the Dáil on Wednesday

UN welcomes Irish recognition of Traveller ethnicity

Members and supporters of the Traveller community outside the the Dáil as the Taoiseach announced that Traveller’s distinct ethnicity was to be recognised by the Irish State | Image: RollingNews.ie

The United Nations has welcomed Ireland’s recognition of Travellers as an ethnic group.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny made the declaration to loud applause in the Dáil on Wednesday.

Anastasia Crickley, chairperson of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), says March 1st was "an historic and symbolic day for Travellers".

She says it also marks an event of historic and symbolic importance “for all who support human rights and social justice for the diversity of humanity”.

Ms Crickley says: "Identity denial is often a direct route to racism and a barrier to rights realisation.

"No one, as the Taoiseach said, should have to hide their culture to be respected or even included in society.

"The conditions have now been fully created within which the next steps can be taken towards full equality for Travellers as an ethnic group within the Irish nation."

Anastasia Crickley | Image: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

But she says more work needs to be done.

"Rights gaps in the fields of accommodation, education, employment, health and other areas of Traveller life, however, have not disappeared overnight and remain to be addressed.

"I note and welcome the Taoiseach's reference to the upcoming National Traveller Roma Inclusion Strategy and urge all involved, from politicians to policy makers, civil servants and Traveller organisations, to build on the working relations and parity of esteem which made March 1st possible in order to eliminate the entrenched and structural inequalities which continue to be experienced by Traveller women men and children in Irish society."

She adds: "I only wish that my husband, partner and best friend, John O'Connell who worked so hard more than thirty years ago to support Travellers articulate and represent their right to ethnic identity were here to share this moment."

Ms Crickley is also a staff member at the Department of Applied Social Studies at Maynooth University.