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70% Travellers suffer garda discrimination

Wednesday, 11th April, 2018 5:11pm

Seven in ten members of the travelling community have experienced discrimination from the gardaí.

This was according to a new Traveller Community National Survey, which presented its Munster findings at a Cork event this week.

The survey found that 70 per cent of Travellers nationally had experienced discrimination by An Garda Síochána at some point in their life, while 48 per cent had done so within the last year. This was the highest of any group featured in the survey, ahead of pub staff, hotel staff and shop staff.

Cork South-Central TD Donnchadh O’Laoghaire, who attended the event, said: “The survey elements related to public bodies and the gardaí is quite serious. To say that not only are members of the Travelling community experiencing discrimination from private individuals, but from public bodies as well.”

Brigid Carnody, Coordinator of the Cork Traveller Women’s Network said the statistics were “stark” and “looked very bad”, saying her organisation was working with various bodies to tackle the issue of discrimination.

Deputy O’Laoghaire added that Garda diversity training needed to be rolled out to a “much greater extent". He continued: "The Garda Racial, Intercultural & Diversity Office (GRIDO) is at a very early stage, and an awful lot of Gardaí would not yet have undergone that training on inclusion and respect for minority groups including Travellers.”

The Sinn Féin TD said that he did not wish to single out the Gardaí, and that more needed to be done to reduce discrimination towards communities like Travellers.

“I think clearly there is a need to improve attitudes within public bodies, involving training and management culture that insures that breaches like discriminatory language and/or behaviour is severely punished.”

A Garda statement said: “It is not the policy of An Garda Síochána to comment on third party statements or figures collected by third parties.

“An Garda Siochana, through the Garda Bureau of Community Diversity and Integration (GBCDI), is represented in the National Traveller and Roma Steering Committee, a Government initiative to improve the lives of Travellers. An Garda Siochana, through the GBCDI and Ethnic Liaison Officers, work to build positive relations with Travellers through engagement, and anti-discriminatory initiatives.

Conducted by the Behaviour & Attitudes Market Research, the survey questioned 481 members of the travelling community in Ireland on their attitudes, perceptions and experiences. Topics surveyed included health, education, employment and relationship with the settled community.The survey also highlighted accommodation and mental health as primary concerns among Travellers.

The number who said they still travelled was down on previous surveys, while living near family remained a steady priorities among those surveyed.

42 per cent of Travellers surveyed in Munster said they had been forced to move accommodation at some point in their lives, while the national number staying in accommodation for longer periods rose compared to a similar 2000 survey.

Four in ten Travellers surveyed in Munster said they had experienced suicide in their immediate family. This was double the national statistic as per the survey (26 per cent).

53 per cent of Travellers in Munster were concerned about mental health compared to 45 per cent nationally. Concerns about long term illness (43 per cent) and isolation (31 per cent) were also higher in Munster than the national figures (33 and 22 per cent respectively).

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