Funding needed for new Traveller Inclusion Strategy, says Gerry Adams

Dundalk Democrat

Reporter:

Dundalk Democrat

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called on the government to commit to additional funding for the new National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy for the years 2017 – 2021 which was published last week by the government.

The Louth TD expressed concern that the new strategy does not include any penalties against those Councils that make no effort to draw down available money for the provision of traveller accommodation.

 Addressing Leo Varadkar on Tuesday in his first Dáil Leaders and Taoiseach’s Questions Gerry Adams said:

“While the recognition of Travellers ethnicity on March 1st was an important symbolic gesture the then Taoiseach, Teachta Kenny pointedly said that it would create no new individual, constitutional or financial rights. The Minister of State Denis Staunton was even more explicit saying that it would have no implications for public expenditure.

 “If these assertions are accurate then we should hold no great expectations from the new National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy. Without additional financial resources how can such an inclusion strategy hope to address the many issues, including inequality, poverty, institutionalised discrimination, and homelessness, that Travellers traditionally and currently suffer from?

“In addition, we know that many local authorities have failed to draw down the money available for Traveller sites. There is no penalty included in the new strategy to penalise councils who refuse to do this.

 “We need to know that the government will provide additional funding in Budget 2018 to resource the Inclusion Strategy. It also needs to publish the review of funding for Traveller accommodation that is due to be published this month by the Housing Agency.

 “The National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy contains much that will be helpful to both ethnic groups but implementation and funding will be crucial. This is especially important in the context of the levels of disadvantage faced by the Traveller community.

“According to the new Inclusion Strategy Traveller mortality is three and a half times higher than non-Travellers overall while infant mortality is three and a half times higher among Travellers than among the general population.

“The average expected age of a Traveller man is 61.7 compared to 76.8 for the rest of the male population and the figure for women is 70.1 compared to 81.6.

 “The strategy also acknowledges that there is a large disparity between Travellers and non-Travellers in the level of education completed and the ability of Traveller’s to access jobs is largely linked to educational disadvantage.

“The problem is most stark with children. 13% of Traveller children complete second level education compared to 92% in the settled community and the number of Traveller children who progress to third level education represents just 1% of the Traveller community.

“These statistics of inequality and deprivation demand action. The responsibility rests with the government.”