Recognition of Traveller ethnicity must be followed by real change – Ombudsman for Children

Government will recognise the Irish Travelling community as an ethnic minority

Written by Tricia Purcell


The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, has said that the recognition of Traveller ethnicity marks a monumental step towards delivering on our commitment to children’s rights, but that it must be followed by real action.

“The recognition of Traveller ethnicity has long been called for by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office and others committed to tackling the serious challenges still confronting Traveller children in Ireland.Today is a monumental day for the Traveller community. All of those who campaigned for this day should be extremely proud of what they have achieved. However, the recognition of Traveller ethnicity must be followed by concrete measures and timelines that will improve the situation for young Travellers.

“In Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures (BOBF), the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People published in 2014, the Government acknowledged the poorer health and educational outcomes for Traveller children. Although targets were set to tackle health inequalities and to improve educational opportunities for Traveller children, no specific actions were outlined or delivered. This is an issue we raised before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

A recent report published by the ESRI highlighted the continuing need to make significant changes that will improve the living circumstances and the opportunities available to Traveller children.

“Today’s announcement will be followed by the publication of the National Strategy on Travellers and Roma People. I am hopeful that the actions laid out in the strategy will be ambitious and deliverable in the best interests of children. We cannot allow the historic recognition of Traveller ethnicity to be an exercise in semantics. Real and tangible change must take place.”

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