15.3 Recognition of Traveller Ethnicity and Culture

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Notwithstanding numerous calls by both UN1 and Council of Europe human rights bodies,2 the Irish Government continues to refuse to recognise Traveller Ethnicity. In 2011 the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reported on Traveller ethnicity and reiterated its concern at the State’s ‘persistent refusal to recognise Travellers as an ethnic group, notwithstanding that they satisfy the internationally recognised criteria’. In 2013, a cross-party Parliamentary Committee consulted with national human rights institutions, representative civil society organisations and leading academics to determine the question of Traveller Ethnicity. The Committee rejected ‘all identifiable potential excuses or concerns that could be deployed by this State to justify the continued denial of Traveller ethnicity’3 and recommended that the State officially recognise the ethnicity of the Traveller community.4

In Budget 2014, Department of Justice and Equality funding for Traveller Initiatives to promote equality and integration was reduced from €405,000 to €305,000.5 Prior to 2013 there had been no separate budget line for these initiatives. The Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention on National Minorities noted that while the Irish ‘authorities continue to support manifestations of Traveller culture, such as the annual Traveller Pride Week, the support provided to Traveller culture continues to be event-centred, not allowing for continuous and sustained development of cultural projects’.6 Furthermore, in its collective complaint to the European Committee on Social Rights the European Roma Rights Centre, supported by the Irish Traveller Movement, argues that the State’s policies and legislation represent ‘an attack on the nomadic culture of many Travellers’.7

FLAC urges the Committee to recommend that the State:

  • Recognise Traveller ethnicity as a matter of urgency and put in place long-term sustainable measures to ensure ongoing support and development of Traveller culture.


1 Recommendations have been made by the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (2011), the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (2011) and the UN Human Rights Committee (2014).

2 Recommendations have been made by both the former and present Council of Europe Commissioners for Human Rights (2007) and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (2013).

3 Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality (2014) Report on the Recognition of Traveller Ethnicity, Dublin: Houses of the Oireachtas, p.15

4 Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality (2014) Report on the Recognition of Traveller Ethnicity, Dublin: Houses of the Oireachtas, p.7.

5 Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (2013) 2014 Revised Estimates for Public Services, Dublin: Stationery Office, p.97.

6 Committee of Ministers (2014) Resolution CM/ResCMN2 on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by Ireland, Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

7 European Roma Rights Centre v Ireland, Complaint No. 100/2013, p.22, para.68.

Last Updated: 22/01/2015 ^ back to top