Irish Travellers face some of the worst discrimination across Europe, with more than two thirds of them having suffered racism, a report has found.
The research compiled by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) found that 68% of Traveller men and 62% of Traveller women reported experiencing discrimination.
The research also found that 46% of people said they would feel “uncomfortable with Roma and Travellers as neighbours”.
The report was launched on Monday by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre and the Department of Equality.
The survey of Rights and Living Conditions of Travellers in Ireland found that Travellers in Ireland reported having the lowest rates of employment across Europe, at just 15%.
The survey results published today make clear that sadly Travellers still face significant barriers to full equality within Irish societyChildren's Minister Roderic O’Gorman
It also found that 10% of Travellers, including children, report “going to bed hungry” at least once in the last month, rising to a fifth in some countries surveyed.
More than 90% of Travellers said there is “insufficient and inadequate” accommodation available, including halting sites.
Ireland has the second highest rate of Traveller children participating in early childhood education, at 75%, however, it continues to lag behind that of the general population.
There is a 70% rate of early school leaving among Irish Travellers, compared with 5% for the general population.
Speaking at the launch, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman said: “The survey results published today make clear that sadly Travellers still face significant barriers to full equality within Irish society.
“These results will inform the review of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021.
These results confirm the unacceptable hardships and barriers Travellers still face in 21st century IrelandMichael O'Flaherty, FRA
“I want to ensure that the successor strategy has a stronger outcomes-focused approach, to help bring about meaningful change for the Traveller and Roma community in Ireland.
“I know that the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted a range of needs in both communities.”
The director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Michael O’Flaherty, said: “Travellers are as Irish as you and me. But they have been excluded from our society for generations.
“These results confirm the unacceptable hardships and barriers Travellers still face in 21st century Ireland.
“The results should challenge us all and can help policymakers to deliver equality and inclusion for Irish Travellers.”
A co-ordinated approach is needed to bring about real changeMartin Collins, Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre
Peer researcher Bridget Nevin emphasised the importance of Traveller involvement in doing the fieldwork for this survey.
“Travellers know the facts on the ground but by recording them in this way we hope that the Government will take action based on the facts highlighted about discrimination and racism in every part of our lives,” she added.
Martin Collins, co-director of Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, said: “We have seen through the Covid-19 crisis that much can be achieved when it’s needed.
“A co-ordinated approach is needed to bring about real change.
“This report is timely as we now have a unique opportunity to ensure that the forthcoming EU national inclusion strategies, and especially the Irish National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy (NTRIS), will be reinforced with sufficient coherence, teeth and drive to implement real change.”