Belfast Telegraph

Research reveals concerns about disadvantages for Traveller community

Around one in 10 Travellers still lives in a caravan, a study has revealed.

The vast majority - almost nine in 10, or 88% - of the Travelling community now live in "standard housing", the analysis of the last census show.

The figures are carried in a report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), the country's leading economic think tank - which warns about the poor education, health and jobs prospects suffered by the community.

The ESRI says improving education among Travellers is key to reversing historic disadvantages.

Its analysis of the 2011 census shows there are just under 30,000 Travellers living in Ireland, making up 0.6% of the population.

Travellers are much more likely to have left school early, it confirmed.

Only 8% of working-age Travellers had stayed at school up to Leaving Certificate level compared with almost three quarters of the rest of the population.

The figures suggest that Travellers benefited less than everyone else in Ireland from a general improvement in education since the 1960s, according to the ESRI.

Equality minister David Stanton said the findings are "particularly timely" as the government is finalising its blueprint for improving conditions for the Traveller and Roma communities.

"It draws attention in unequivocal terms to the poor outcomes and conditions in terms of education, health, employment and accommodation that Travellers face," he said.

"We need a sustained effort in partnership between all relevant departments and agencies and the Traveller community to ensure that these failures are addressed and that Travellers can enjoy the same quality of life as others in our society."

The ESRI study also found that 82% of Travellers aged 25-64 are unemployed compared to 17% of the same age-group in the rest of the population.

Furthermore, almost one in three (29%) Travellers reported being in fair, bad or very bad health compared to just 8% of non-Travellers in the 35 to 54 age group.

Dorothy Watson, ESRI associate research professor and report author, said: "The results highlighted the significance of education - both the extent of the educational disadvantage of Travellers and the importance of education in enabling them to move out of unemployment and poverty."

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