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Ethnicity of Travellers

Asked by Charlie McConalogue (FF, Donegal NE) about the ethnic status of Irish Travellers, the Minister for Justice and Equality told him that he had been asked about this by the United Nations during its periodic review of human rights (Dail Eireann, Debates, 25th October 2011, 845-6).  One delegation specifically recommended that Ireland should recognize Travellers as an ethnic minority ‘and I replied that serious consideration was being given to granting such recognition.  I am aware of the long-standing wish of some Travellers that such status be granted but equally that there is no unanimity among Travellers about the issue’.  The previous government was of the view that Travellers were not an ethnic minority.  There had been dialogue between staff of his department and Traveller representatives on the issue and most recently on 10th November.  He intended that the question be before the government for decision as soon as possible.