Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (551)

Joan Collins


551. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures specific to the Roma to be included in the National Traveller Roma Integration Strategy in the four areas of education, employment, healthcare and housing; the mechanisms in place or planned to ensure Traveller and Roma active participation in the development and implementation of the strategy; and the steps being taken to introduce targets, timelines and budget for the implementation of Ireland's National Traveller Roma Integration Strategy. [8342/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

From Ireland's perspective, in relation to Roma specifically, it is important to note that the term “Roma”, as defined by the Council of Europe, refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale and related groups in Europe, including Travellers and Eastern groups (Dom and Lom), and covers the wide diversity of the groups concerned, including persons who identify themselves as “Gypsies”. By this definition, the vast majority of Travellers/Roma in the Irish State are indigenous Irish Travellers. There are no official statistics on the number of Roma in Ireland. A figure of 3,000 (approximately 0.07% of the population) has been cited by the Roma Support Group Pavee Point. However, the vast majority of Roma in this State are EU citizens and, as such, in terms of immigration controls, are covered by the provision of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) (No. 2) Regulations 2006. Such persons are not required to register their presence in the State.

Ireland's National Traveller/Roma Strategy was developed following a communication from the EU Commission entitled “An EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies" (April 2011) which requested that member states would, in proportion to the size of the Roma population living in their territories and taking into account their different starting points, adopt or develop further a comprehensive approach to Roma integration.This document thus includes relevant strategies that already exist in the four crucial areas of education, employment, healthcare and housing. It also mentions initiatives in place in the same areas to assist the Roma community who are citizens of the European Economic Area and are legally resident in the country. It should be noted that Traveller representatives are active participants on National Committees dealing with policy in all four areas and, in this way, were involved in the development of these policies. The Irish Strategy document is envisaged to be a living document and as time goes on there is nothing to prevent the development and inclusion of new actions in any of the sectors; however the actions in the Strategy are at present generic actions in relation to the population covered rather than Roma-specific.

My Department's role in the Strategy is one of coordination while the development of particular policy and implementation including targets, timelines and budgets as referred to by the Deputy are a matter for my Government colleagues in the relevant Government Departments.

In the Commission's assessment of the National Strategies, Ireland was identified as having a strong monitoring and review mechanism for adapting the strategy. Based on the assessment of all Member States, a set of policy recommendations in each section points to priorities that all Member States should further address, depending on their national circumstances, in order to meet their responsibilities.In this context it is envisaged that further actions will be developed for Ireland when and where it is deemed necessary.