Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Questions (252, 253)

Gerry Adams

Question:

255 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the groups and organisations he has consulted with in relation to the issue of the recognition of Travellers as a distinct ethnic group. [35587/12]

View answer

Gerry Adams

Question:

256 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the possibility of the Government recognising travellers as an ethnic group. [35588/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice and Equality)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 and 256 together.

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 and that 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 in the past on the issue, as during the course of a seminar on the third State report under the Council of Europe Convention on National Minorities. In addition, the National Traveller Monitoring and Advisery Committee, on which sit representatives of all the national Traveller organisations as well as officials of my Department, earlier this year established a sub-group specifically to consider the issue of Traveller ethnicity.

It is not for me as Minister for State to anticipate a decision of Government. I can say that consideration remains ongoing and it is intended that the question will be before the Government for decision as soon as possible.