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Infant death far higher among Travellers

Thursday, 15th February, 2018 9:09am

Health inequality could be why children in the Travelling community are four times more likely to die in infancy than their settled peers.

The Children’s Rights Alliance (CRA) report, published yesterday, highlights the key issues affecting children and among these was the high rate of Traveller infancy deaths.

According to the report, Traveller children leave school on average five years earlier than their settled peers and are nearly four times more likely to die in infancy.

Specifically, Traveller infant mortality is 3.6 times higher than the rest of the population and a spokesperson for CRA said that this figure is from the Department of Justice’s National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021. In 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available from the Central Statistics Office, 225 infant deaths under the age of one were recorded in Ireland.

A spokesperson for the Traveller Visibility Group in Cork told the Cork Independent about a previous study which looked at infant mortality and the health status of the traveller community across the country.

The spokesperson said: “It went through all the areas in life that can effect somebody’s health. When you’re looking at health equality, you would be looking at topics like the environment people are living in, their access to employment, their access to health services and education.

“That could be why the rate is so high, because you’re talking about people who are very marginalised in these socio economic areas.”

She also said that this rate highlights how there is health inequalities in Ireland especially in relation to the Traveller Community and she said there was projects going on nationally that are trying to address those issues.

Sinn Féin Cllr Mick Nugent, who is the chairperson of the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee, said that while the infant mortality rate among Travellers was sad, it didn’t surprise him.

He said: “Life expectancy is lower in the Travelling Community. There’s a huge amount of them living in poor conditions and severe overcrowding.”

He said this as something that needed to change and called on Cork City Council and the Government to address these issues.

‘Report Card 2018’ scrutinises the Government’s performance each year against commitments made to children in the Programme for Government. The Government has been awarded an overall ‘C-’ grade.

Child and Family Homelessness received the lowest grade due to an unprecedented 3,333 children experiencing homelessness in 2017. The highest grades were awarded for Child Protection (B) and LGBTI+ Children (B-).

A D+ grade was also awarded for commitments to Traveller and Roma Children.

Report Card 2018 is available on the Children’s Rights Alliance website, childrensrights.ie.

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