Traveller and Roma Policy in Ireland
Anti-Discrimination and Racism
Travellers in Ireland have the same civil and political rights as other citizens under the Constitution. The key anti-discrimination measures, the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977, the Employment Equality Acts and the Equal Status Acts specifically identify Travellers by name as a group protected. The Equality Act 2004, which transposed the EU Racial Equality Directive, applied all the protections of that Directive across all of the nine grounds contained in the legislation, including the Traveller community ground. All the protections afforded to ethnic minorities in EU directives and international conventions apply to Travellers because the Irish legislation giving effect to those international instruments explicitly protects Travellers.
Members of the Roma community in Ireland have the same rights and responsibilities as any other EU citizen when in Ireland.
During 2015 the Department of Justice will be undertaking a comprehensive consultation process with a view to putting in place a revised National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy by early 2016. The process will seek to revise, as appropriate, the Strategies being followed across Government in the key priority areas of accommodation, education, health, employment and anti-discrimination.
The Department endeavours to promote positive communications in relation to the Traveller Community. One of the activities sponsored in this context is the annual Traveller Pride Week which aims to promote Traveller culture and achievements, including to the wider population.
Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 introduces a positive duty on public bodies to have due regard to human rights and equality. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will assist public bodies to comply with the positive duty by producing guidelines and codes of practice. The idea is to create a positive duty on public bodies to conduct their business in a manner that is consistent with individual human rights. The Commission will have an important role in developing this model of positive duty and in achieving a key tool which will be meaningful and effective in actively promoting equality and human rights across the public sector. Training as well as preparation of codes of practice will be important elements of what the Commission can offer. The duty set out in the Act requires public bodies to have regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect the human rights of its employees and service users.
On 1 September 2014, the Commission published a new e-learning course for front-line staff in the public sector. “Delivering Equality in Public Services: An Introduction for Front Line Staff” provides public sector staff with the essentials they need to know about Irish equality law in their work. The course is available free and takes about 40 minutes. It is an e-learning course which is being made available in a number of ways. Individual officers in public sector bodies can access Delivering Equality In Public Services on the IHREC website.
An Garda Síochána
During 2014, An Garda Síochána launched localised information training sessions to cater for Ethnic Liaison Officers (ELOs) and Community Garda members in conjunction with Roma community specialist trainers/facilitators. These sessions provide instructions on policing strategies to be employed in policing Ireland’s Roma Gypsy population and have specific focus on integration, equal protection and mutual respect. It is proposed to continue the roll-out of these training sessions.
A number of measures have been implemented in the education sector to combat discrimination and prejudice against all students in Ireland including Travellers and Roma:
· Anti-Bullying Procedures
These procedures are designed to give direction and guidance to school authorities and school personnel in preventing and tackling school-based bullying behaviour amongst its pupils. They place a strong focus on education and prevention strategies to deal with bullying behaviour including, in particular, cyberbullying and identity based bullying such as homophobic and transphobic bullying. The procedures make clear that the focus of any prevention and education awareness measures in schools about cyber-bullying should be on educating pupils on how to stay safe while on-line and also on developing a culture of reporting any concerns about cyber-bullying. The procedures also recognise that parents and pupils have a role and responsibility in helping the school to prevent and address school-based bullying behaviour and to deal with any negative impact within school of bullying behaviour that occurs elsewhere.
· Education (Admissions to School) Bill 2014
The Action Plan on Bullying (2012) encourages individual school authorities to identify, and participate in, anti-bullying programmes which best meet the needs of their particular school and the context in which it operates. There is a number of alternative programmes available to schools and the Department of Education and Skills does not endorse any one particular programme, but leaves it to schools to use the programme which has the best potential to address the challenges faced by individual schools.
The Action Plan favours an approach whereby a climate of respect for all, regardless of their identity or background. More generally, the Department supports a range of interventions to encourage an inclusive school environment – ranging from initial teacher education and continuing professional development to curriculum reform and supports such as the NCCA’s Intercultural Guidelines for Schools. The Department is also committed to the reform of school admissions policies and encouraging increased pluralism in school patronage.
The Department of Education and Skills has provided funding for anti-bullying training and awareness programmes for pupils, teachers and parents, including Traveller and Roma parents. In relation to identity-based bullying, the Action Plan on Bullying outlines an approach which promotes respect and tolerance for all, regardless of their background, ethnic or other identity.
The objective of new legislation is to provide an over-arching framework to ensure that how schools decide on who is enrolled and who is refused a place in schools is more structured, fair and transparent.
Funding is directed towards a range of initiatives designed to support the Roma community in accessing health care. In this regard, consideration is accorded to the socioeconomic determinants of health model, with a portion of funding applied towards provision of general support in activities of daily living.
The success of the Roma health project in Tallaght, County Dublin offers a useful example of a project where impact in respect of improving access to health services by members of the Roma community has been significant. The trust built via this project has encouraged increasing numbers of Roma to access the clinic as a first point of contact, as well as being “signposted” to other essential services.
The HSE has supported Pavee Point in conducting seminars attended by Roma service users and a range of service providers. Two publications aimed at promoting an understanding of the barriers faced by many Roma in Ireland and informing policy and practice in relation to such issues were published subsequently i.e. Roma Communities in Ireland: Child Protection Considerations and Challenging Barriers and Misconceptions: Roma Maternal Health in Ireland.
In their dealings with customers, Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) ensure the rights to equal treatment established by equality legislation are upheld. The LEO does not discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, gender, family status, race, religious belief, sexual orientation and membership of the Traveller community.
LEOs also promote equality of treatment within enterprises , for example, by promulgating guides such as “Employment Legislation Guide For Small and Medium Businesses” that emphasise the importance for employers to operate in a manner consistent with the need to provide equal opportunities to their employees and to work with people on the basis of individual merit and without regard to gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller Community.
Children and Young People
Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020 contains a range of commitments relating to Traveller and Roma children and young people including reducing discrimination and intolerance of all types experienced by marginalized groups (i.e. Travellers, Roma, migrants and asylum-seekers; children and young people with disabilities; those in care and detention; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people; and those from ethnic or religious minorities).
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