• February 6, 2010

The Celtic League has asked Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs what steps are being taken to give effect to concerns expressed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee (CCPR) about the status of Ireland’s Traveller Community.

On a related point the League has also asked for an update on concerns they raised last year about xenophobic and discriminatory attacks on the Irish Traveller Community in the United Kingdom media. (see below):

“Micheál Martin TD
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Department of Foreign Affairs
80 St Stephen’s Green,
Dublin 2


Dear Minister,

I refer to the Concluding Observations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee – International Covenant on Civil Political Rights – (CCPR) in its most recent report on Ireland (July 2008) in which it says in paragraph 23:

“The Committee is concerned that the State party does not intend to recognize the Traveller community as an ethnic minority. It is furthermore concerned that members of the Traveller community were not represented in the High Level Group on Traveller issues. The Committee is also concerned about the criminalization of trespassing on land in the 2002 Housing Act which disproportionately affects Travellers (art. 26, 27).

The State party should take steps to recognize Travellers as an ethnic minority group. The State party should also ensure that in public policy initiatives concerning Travellers, representatives from the Traveller community should always be included. It should also amend its legislation to meet the specific accommodation requirements of Traveller families.”

Given that the Irish government has now had over eighteen months to consider the report can you advise what steps it is/has taken to address the CCPRs concerns.

On a related point we wrote to you in March 2009 to express concern about the negative portrayal of the Irish Traveller Community in the United Kingdom media.

You advised us that the Irish government, through its Embassy in London, was addressing this issue and assured us that:

“The Embassy supports the efforts of the Irish Traveller Movement in bringing inflammatory newspaper articles to the attention of the Press Complaints Commission and other relevant authorities, and is closely following the progress of these complaints.”

Can you advise if the Irish Embassy has been able to identify any conclusive action taken by the (UK) Press Complaints Commission to address inflammatory and discriminatory attacks on the Traveller Community?

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information

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