Limerick TD criticises fundamental failure to help Travellers

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Limerick Green Party TD Brian Leddin

THERE has been a fundamental failure in Irish society to help the Traveller community integrate, succeed and flourish.

That’s according to Limerick Green Party TD Brian Leddin who said that this failure was evident in the shorter life expectancy of Travellers, the suicide rates, the low educational attainment and the €72 million underspend by local authorities on Traveller projects in the last decade.

Speaking in the Dáil last week on the Committee Report into key issues affecting the Traveller Community, Deputy Leddin paid tribute to Senator Eileen Flynn who, he said, had produced a report that “gets through to people like me, who are not of her community and who are privileged in our society”.

“From my reading of the report, I can see that Travellers have been moved to the edges of our society. They have been physically separated and socially excluded. They have been excluded from policy and decision making on issues that affect them. They have been subject to persistent disadvantage and segregation,” Deputy Leddin declared.

“The road to formal recognition was long, and the official recognition as an indigenous ethnic minority in 2017 was long overdue. The progress to full inclusion and acceptance of Traveller identity and culture in this country is slow. There have been numerous reports and studies produced which have highlighted the difficulties and challenges faced by the Traveller community.

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Unfortunately, it is clear that these have not succeeded in improving conditions in Travellers’ lives. I believe this report, by making that point, will have an effect because Senator Flynn has captured that fundamental failure in how we have treated Travellers in this society since the foundation of the State.

“I could go on about the shorter life expectancy of Travellers, the suicide rates, the low educational attainment and the underspend of local authorities, at €72 million, in the last decade. This points to a fundamental failure of our society to help the Traveller community to integrate, succeed and flourish”, Deputy Leddin added.

In her contribution to the debate, Sinn Féin TD Réada Cronin congratulated Traveller human rights activist Dr Sindy Joyce on taking up a role as lecturer at the University of Limerick.

“They will be very lucky to have this outstanding academic put her particular and informed focus on Traveller, racial and ethnic studies. No more than in any part of our community where women take their place and use their voice, we can make the future better for everyone,” Deputy Cronin said.