The National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017 – 2021 (NTRIS) represents a whole of Government approach to bring about meaningful change and progress for the Traveller and Roma communities in Ireland. It brings Government Departments and Agencies together along with representatives of both Traveller and Roma communities to bring a focus to the issues which affect them most in a structured way.
The NTRIS Steering Committee, which I chair, will continue to meet in 2022 to report on actions progressed and to consult on the development of a successor strategy.
As the Deputy will be aware, funding for Traveller and Roma initiatives is provided by a number of Government Departments.
Under NTRIS, I secured a budget of €5.659m for 2022 which is an increase of €734,000 over the 2021 allocation. In addition, €880,000 in Dormant Account funding has been secured, an increase of €180,000 over the previous year.
My Department has provided additional funding and other supports to our partner Traveller organisations for the continued provision of necessary services during the COVID-19 crisis to the Traveller and Roma population, including in appropriate languages.
School attendance is a specific challenge for some members of the Traveller and Roma communities. My Department is working with the Department of Education and is providing funding for a pilot programme in four locations across the country, which trials a new approach to addressing barriers to education in Traveller and Roma communities regionally. The pilots have been extended to the end of 2022 due to the pandemic.
My Department also funds the Special Initiative for Travellers (SIT) to provide support for practical approaches to redressing the imbalance in Traveller under-employment, to support Travellers already engaged in the Traveller economy and provide other supports, including training, to address the needs of Travellers. The SIT funding includes support workers and assistance for employment and enterprise development.
Significant funding is provided by my Department to support the work of the Traveller Mediation Service and the Traveller Counselling Service.
My Department is working to advance projects that increase the visibility of Traveller culture and heritage. Funding is provided to a number of cultural initiatives including an allocation of €100,000 for Traveller Pride Week
to empower national, regional and local organisations to celebrate Traveller and Roma culture and diversity. A project is also being progressed with the National Museum of Ireland to develop an online portal to the Traveller Culture collections.
My Department supports a number of projects which specifically address the needs of Roma. for example, funding is provided to Cáirde to establish a group of Roma women as peer advocates within their community. The project aims to provide training, development of skills in literacy, basic computer skills and develop links between participants and relevant services and supports.