Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
432. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to give ethnicity status to members of the travelling community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35670/11]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): During the course of the examination by a working group of the UN Human Rights Council of Ireland’s report to that Council, prepared under the Universal Periodic Review procedures of the Council, my colleague, Minister Shatter, was asked, among many other matters, about the position of Travellers in Irish society.
One delegation specifically recommended that Ireland should recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority while other interventions were of a more general nature. Minister Shatter replied that serious consideration is being given to granting such recognition. I am aware of the long standing wish of some Travellers that such status be granted but equally that there is no unanimity among Travellers about this issue.
The previous Government was of the view that Travellers are not an ethnic minority. I am aware that dialogue between staff of my Department and representatives of Traveller organisations has taken place on the issue, most recently on 11 November,2010, during the course of a seminar on the third State report under the Council of Europe Convention on National Minorities. Consideration is ongoing and it is intended that the question will be before the Government for decision as soon as possible.
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