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Surveys show discrimination and prejudice towards the Traveller community  

A number of recent reports shine a stark light on the sub-standard conditions members of the Traveller community often live in. 

EU rights agency survey confirms unacceptable hardships faced by Travellers 

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Agency released key findings on the experiences of Travellers across six countries, including Ireland.  Director of the Agency, Michael O Flaherty, who commissioned the survey said: “Travellers are as Irish as you and me. But they have been excluded from our society for generations…The results should challenge us all and can help policymakers to deliver equality and inclusion for Irish Travellers.”   

This survey highlighted key issues in terms of:  

  • Unemployment – 15% of Travellers in Ireland are in some form of paid work. This was the lowest employment rate amongst the nations surveyed. 
  • Poverty and Social Exclusion – 10% of Travellers (including children) surveyed report ‘going to bed hungry’ at least once in the last month. 
  • Racism and Discrimination – 68% of men and 62 % of women reported experiencing discrimination.  
  • Education –There is a 70% rate of early school leaving among Irish Travellers, compared to 5% for the general population. 

What housing issues do Irish Travellers face? 

  • Most Irish Travellers (92%) feel that there are not enough places for them to live. 

  • 73% experienced discrimination when trying to rent or buy houses in the last five years. 

  • 24% of Travellers face severe housing deprivation 

While these figures reflect the situation in the Republic of Ireland, research has shown Travellers in Northern Ireland face similar issues.  

Poor housing impacts Travellers’ mental health  

Another report ‘Hate: As regular as rain’, funded by the Ministry of Housing (UK), showed Travellers on average face poorer mental health standards than non-Travellers. The report highlighted issues with accessing safe and suitable housing as one of the main reasons.  

Feelings of being forced from a nomadic or sited lifestyle into settled housing emerged as a key trigger for depression and anxiety. One respondent said: “Our traditional jobs are being taken away from us and lack of housing, all which is the man’s responsibility, are being taken away from us. Once you lose honour and respect…there’s nothing left”. 

Covid impacts Travellers disproportionately 

The Irish Examiner reported the Traveller community in the Republic of Ireland have suffered 46% more Covid cases per-capita than the general population. Overcrowding has exacerbated the high rates of Covid in the Traveller community. The report also shows lack of sanitation stations and substandard living conditions contribute to the health inequality between Travellers and the general population.  

Finding solutions to housing issues faced by the Traveller community  

The NIHRC's 'Out of Sight, Out of Mind' 2018 report shows the Traveller community in Northern Ireland often face accommodation issues, including lack of sites and poor facilities. 

Our advice service has helped members of the Traveller community and we hope to raise more awareness of the services we provide to this community. Housing Rights is currently offering Traveller cultural awareness training to all staff. We firmly believe that engagement and education are vital in order to understand Traveller needs and provide inclusive and successful services. We want to make sure that our services are accessible to everyone and we are working with others, including members of the Traveller community, to increase our engagement with the Traveller community and improve housing conditions. 

Tagged In

Coronavirus, Minority Groups, Outside NI

Author

Etain Ní Fhearghail
This article was written on 11 January 2021. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.