Human Rights

Travellers are widely acknowledged as one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Irish society. Travellers fare poorly on every indicator used to measure disadvantage: unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, health status, infant mortality, life expectancy, illiteracy, education and training levels, access to decision making and political representation, gender equality, access to credit, accommodation and living conditions. It is not surprising therefore, that the Economic and Social Research Institute concluded that

… the circumstances of the Irish Travelling people are intolerable. No humane and decent society, once made aware of such circumstances, could permit them to persist

 

One respondent to the Offaly Traveller Movement community consultation 2012 from a Government Department stated:

…Discrimination affects all areas of Travellers lives and is perhaps the most powerful single issue that has not been resolved in any real way

 

The marginalisation of Travellers in Irish society is acknowledged by people of varying political positions and approaches. Past policies, while designed to overcome this marginalisation, have sometimes exacerbated the situation because of a failure to grasp the nature of the oppression experienced by Travellers. In particular, the denial of discrimination and racism, combined with a racialisation process, contributed to that marginalisation. In order to address this situation there is need for a comprehensive approach involving statutory and voluntary bodies. Legislation, information, and awareness-raising are needed to protect people and to overcome obstacles to equality. In the context of a growing acknowledgement of the dangers of racism throughout the European Union, there is an additional impetus and opportunity to face up to this challenge in Ireland, as well as throughout Europe. *

(*National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism)

The Travelling community in County Offaly are no exception to this discrimination and marginalisation.  The OTM community consultation 2012 found that the majority of Travellers in Offaly described discrimination as being prevalent and widespread.  Discrimination is thought to be getting worse with respondents reporting experiencing discrimination in pubs, hotels, shops and employment.  The sense of powerlessness and helplessness in the face of discrimination is widespread in Offaly, with the majority of Travellers stating that they felt they had to put up with discrimination and they did not have the power to challenge it.  Fear of making the situation worse was the major underlying reason given for not challenging discrimination.  In response to this situation the Offaly Traveller Movement has made anti-discrimination a key priority area and has established a working group to steer the response.  As well as promoting Traveller rights throughout Offaly, OTM are also members of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) Ireland and participate in the Racist incident reporting process which alerts policymakers at European level of incidents of discrimination against members of the Travelling community.

iReportLogo_RGB_June2013_72ppi_buttonIf you have experienced or witnessed a racist incident then you can report it and help to make a difference by clicking on this link:

 

 

 

Some quotes from Travellers in Offaly:

…If a Traveller applies for a job, the employer still looks at the name and address and the application is binned….

 

..I would travel more if there was a transient site in each county, the Trespass law put a stop to Travellers moving from place to place…

 

…Discrimination is everywhere and it happens every day.  It is just like the norm now.  I don’t think it will ever change- if anything its getting worse…