Travellers to be recognised as ethnic minority for first time

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to make a formal declaration to the Dáil

Travellers to be recognised as ethnic minority for first time

Image: Sam Boal/

The Travelling Community is to be recognised as an ethnic minority tomorrow.

A formal declaration is to be made in the Dáil by Taoiseach Enda Kenny. No new legislation is required.

It's seen as the final formal step in giving an official legal status to the Travelling Community.

The status was recommended last month by the Oireachtas Justice Committee, which said Travellers were "de facto" a separate ethnic group.

"This is not a gift to be bestowed upon them, but a fact the State ought to formally acknowledge, preferably by way of a statement by the Taoiseach to Dáil Éireann," the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality said last month.

Campaigners have south the official declaration over the past 25 years.

A spokeswoman for Minister David Staunton, who brought forward the initial report recommending recognition said: "It’s time to give a little so we can all work together now to improve things for everyone."

The next step will be the publication of the National Strategy on Travellers and Roma People. It will set out a range of actions across certain areas, including education, employment and accommodation. Ethnicity is a key part of that strategy.


A report published in January showed that just 8% of working age Travellers completed their Leaving Cert before 2011.

Research was carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) - which examines the disadvantages experienced by members of the Travelling community - in an effort to establish a reason for the low rate.

Based on analysis of the 2011 Census, the ESRI found that Travellers are far more likely to leave school early than non-Travellers.

'Nomadism' is outlined as a key factor, with the body suggesting that a "cultural shift" is needed in their attitude to education.

Among the 25-34 age group, 9% of Travellers have completed the Leaving Cert, compared to 86% of non-Travellers.

The report also found marital status by age group for Traveller and non-Traveller adults aged 15 years and over in 2011.

In the 15 to 24 age group, 24% of Travellers have married, compared to less than 2% of non-Travellers.

The figures for those aged 25–34 years are 59% (with an additional 9% formerly married) among Travellers and 32% (2% formerly married) among the other population.

The fertility rate among Traveller women in 2011 was also recorded as being significantly higher, with just over half of Traveller women aged between 45–64 years had over six children.