"Continued support for the Traveller community is essential"

Minister of State with responsibility for Equality Issues, Mr. Sean Power T.D., today announced the allocation of €320,000 in funding for local Traveller support projects. The allocations are from a special Extension Fund for projects already supported by the Traveller Interagency Fund. The projects were identified as being of particular merit and in need of additional support to continue their work during 2008. Six projects have been allocated funding and most of them involve support for young Travellers, with a particular focus on Education.

Minister Power said: "Because of the rapid changes in our society in recent years, and the level of support for the growing diversity of cultures and nationalities, there is a concern that Irish Travellers will be overlooked. The Government is determined that this does not happen, and continued support for the Traveller Community is essential."

The national partnership agreement, Towards 2016, includes a specific commitment from all of the social partners to give "concentrated attention" to making greater progress for Travellers. Minister Power said: "Everyone is aware of the difficulties which we, as a society, have faced in promoting a constructive relationship between Traveller and Settled communities. Unfortunately, both Traveller and Settled people often retreat behind the barriers of their existing fears and suspicions. So, I am especially pleased to support local projects which are actively encouraging the participation of Travellers. This can only help break down prejudice and promote mutual respect."

Minister Power referred to other successful initiatives in the Civil Service and local authorities such as the Traveller Internship Programme where young Travellers have been successfully involved in work placement and training. Some have since gone on to become full time public servants whilst others have gone on to private sector employment. 

The Minister concluded: "We must create more opportunities for Traveller and Settled people to participate together, especially in Education and in the workplace. When people have the opportunity to study and work together, they usually discover that they have much more in common than they realise. Labels such as Traveller and Settled are much less significant when people share common ground as students or work colleagues, with an equal stake in their local community."

21 February 2008