Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Equality for Travelling Community.

Thursday, 30 June 1994

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 444 No. 7

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  6.  Mr. Gilmore  Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore   asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform  Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor   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.

[1663]

  17.  Mr. Clohessy  Information on Peadar Clohessy  Zoom on Peadar Clohessy   asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform  Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor   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.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 17 together.

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: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias 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: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn 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: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias 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 [1664] Bill? In other words is it intended to specify travellers as a category of people against whom discrimination will be illegal?

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn 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.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  Is the Minister telling us that the travelling community will be specifically designated in the legislation?

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  Absolutely. Members of the travelling community will be specifically covered.

Ms Keogh: Information on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Zoom on Helen Catherine Anne 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: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn 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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