13 June 2017
Today Minister David Stanton launched the new National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017 – 2021. The development of the Strategy involved a comprehensive public consultation process, including two rounds of public meetings and engagement with Travellers organisations at national level.
In launching the Strategy, Minister Stanton said that “This Inclusion Strategy builds on the wave of positivity arising for Travellers from the Taoiseach’s recent statement of formal recognition of Travellers as an ethnic group of the Irish nation. The challenge now is for Travellers and Government to work together in a sustained way to address the issues the community faces so as to bring about real improvements in the everyday lives of Travellers.”
Arising from the consultation process, the following ten overall themes were identified as central to the success of the Inclusion Strategy:
• cultural identity
• employment and the Traveller economy
• children and youth
• gender equality
• anti-discrimination and equality
• Traveller and Roma communities
• public services.
Amongst the key commitments in the new Strategy are:
· Cultural Identity - increased funding to be invested by the State to promote knowledge of, and pride in, Traveller culture and heritage;
· Education - investment by the State in community-based support mechanisms to ensure earlier access and greater retention of Traveller and Roma children and youths in the education system;
· Employment and the Traveller Economy - there will be a range of assistive and targeted measures including proposals for internships, promotion of existing opportunities, anti-racism and cultural awareness for public sector employees as well as supports for social entrepreneurship;
· Children and Youth - Traveller and Roma children and youth will be given a stronger voice in participative structures and their views will be considered in the development of policy;
· Health - reinvigorated efforts by the State to ensure that Travellers and Roma interact fully with the public health sector in order to address some of the underlying health-related challenges facing those communities
· Gender Equality – initiatives will be undertaken to assist Traveller and Roma women to engage effectively with stakeholder groups and community leadership programmes in gender equality will be supported;
· Accommodation – the Traveller Accommodation Act will be reviewed, the budget for Traveller accommodation will be ring-fenced and, in conjunction with the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee, more robust mechanisms will be put in place to monitor expenditure and delivery, including periodic reviews to assess progress in meeting needs and to identify new and emerging needs
· Community - in consultation with Traveller representatives, a sustained intervention will be designed and implemented to tackle feuding within the Traveller community;
· Public Services - a new system of ethnic identifiers will be developed across the public sector to help to track progress of, and/or challenges for, the Traveller and Roma communities in Ireland.
Minister Stanton emphasised that: “the Inclusion Strategy is as a living document, with monitoring of its implementation a key and integral part of its potential success. It has been my privilege to chair the Strategy Implementation Steering Group – comprising Traveller representatives and representatives of Government Departments and agencies – which will remain as the key mechanism for driving implementation.”