Thursday, 30 June 1994
Dáil Éireann Debate
6. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement on his meeting with representatives of the travelling community on 23 June 1994, to discuss measures to end discrimination against travellers.
17. Mr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform if he intends to include the submission from the Irish Traveller Movement in the forthcoming equal status legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
On 23 June, the Irish Traveller Movement presented an anti-discrimination petition to me. I will take the petition into account in preparing the equal status legislation. I have found the contribution of the organisations representing travellers very helpful in this task.
Proinsias De Rossa: Will the Minister outline what legislation he intends to introduce? According to press reports I understand he is considering changes to the employment equality legislation as well as introducing an Equal Status Bill. Will he outline what these Bills will cover?
Mr. Taylor: The details are set out in the Programme for Government. It is intended to introduce two measures, the first of which will be an Employment Equality Bill confined to employment and employment related areas. Broadly speaking it will seek to make discrimination unlawful in an employment or employment related context against any person because of membership of one of the categories set out in the Programme for Government, that is, on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, handicap or disability, race, colour, nationality, age and membership of the travelling community.
The second measure will be an equal status Bill and will cover the same categories of people as enunciated in connection with the Employment Equality Bill but will relate to non-employment areas, such as the supply of goods and services.
Proinsias De Rossa: Will the submission made by the Irish Traveller Movement that travellers should be recognised as a distinct ethnic group in Irish society be acknowledged in either  Bill? In other words is it intended to specify travellers as a category of people against whom discrimination will be illegal?
Mr. Taylor: It will not be the intention of the Bills to categorise anybody. The relevance of the legislation will be to outlaw discrimination against members of the travelling community and because of that, the question of ethnic designations would not be appropriate for this legislation. This is anti-discrimination legislation which seeks to outlaw discrimination against a person on the sole grounds that he or she is a member of the travelling community or on the grounds of his or her ethnic origins.
Ms Keogh: As part of a petition presented by the travellers' organisation they suggested that an independent human rights commission be set up. What is the Minister's response to that? The wish of the organisation is that such a person should have the power to investigate cases and recommend changes in the law.
Mr. Taylor: The legislation will provide for an authority with powers to deal with the rights that will be conferred in the legislation. The legislation will go some way, therefore, towards meeting that suggestion.
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