202. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a court ruling (details supplied) will be examined to determine if recognition of Traveller ethnicity will require a legislative basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53611/17]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): As you will appreciate, I cannot comment on the conduct of an individual court case.
As you are aware, the Traveller community campaigned for many years to have their unique heritage, culture and identity formally recognised by the Irish State. The recognition of Travellers as an Ethnic Group by the then Taoiseach last March, was a strong message from the State and a symbolic and positive step in acknowledging the uniqueness of Traveller identity.
This was welcomed by the Traveller Community as they felt it would resonate strongly among the community and help counter the stigma and shame felt by many, particularly young people, and increase feelings of respect, self-esteem and inclusion. It is hoped that, over time, this will create a new platform for positive engagement by the Traveller Community and Government together in seeking solutions to tackling the social exclusion which Travellers face.
Travellers are, of course, already named as a protected group in our Equality legislation and the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021 was launched by me last June.
It was made clear at the time of the statement in the Dáil last March that the recognition of Travellers as an Ethnic Group would not create any new individual, constitutional or financial rights because Travellers already enjoy all the human rights and responsibilities that are afforded all citizens under the Constitution and laws.