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Question

8. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on a report (details supplied); and the way in which he plans to implement it. [37708/19]

Answer

Deputy David Stanton: I thank the Deputy for her question and her interest in this area. The report of the task force on the Travelling community, published in 1995, was a ground-breaking analysis of the needs of the Traveller community and made some valuable recommendations in a range of areas designed to improve the status of Travellers in Irish society. In 1998, a monitoring and co-ordination committee was established and it produced two reports, in December 2000 and December 2005, respectively, on the implementation of the recommendations. Thereafter, the then Government pursued other approaches to address Traveller disadvantage through the high level group on Traveller issues and the National Traveller Monitoring and Advisory Committee.
However, we cannot revert to 24 years ago and we must take our frame of reference from the present day. Much has happened since 1995. In 2011, the national Traveller and Roma integration strategy was drawn up and this has been followed by the national Traveller and Roma inclusion strategy which runs from 2017 to 2021. This latter strategy represents a whole-of-Government approach to bringing about meaningful change and progress for the Traveller and Roma communities in Ireland and is a development of the approach taken in the task force on the Travelling community report and its aftermath. The strategy contains 149 actions grouped under ten themes, including cultural identity, education, employment, health and accommodation. The strategy is a living document which will be reviewed and adjusted as required. Traveller and Roma interests were involved in its development and are members of the committee monitoring its implementation which is chaired by me. This is the framework within which we can continue progress for Travellers and Roma to the end of 2021. This type of strategic approach with Traveller and Roma representatives at its centre is the one that will pay dividends in the longer term.
In addition to the strategic framework, the Department of Justice and Equality provides significant amounts of funding to Traveller projects. Projects funded this year include additional funding to the Traveller and Roma initiatives of €500,000, of which €391,210 was prepaid in 2018. The budget supplies funding to seven Traveller projects, six non-governmental organisations, NGOs, including the Traveller counselling service and the education pilot. The Traveller mediation service was approved funding of €250,000 for 2019 from the Dormant Accounts Fund. Some €25,000 was allocated from the budget to fund the Traveller Pride awards and concert event. The education pilot received €350,000 funding for 2019. The special initiative for Travellers has seven locations around Ireland and overall funding for these projects in 2019 is €410,000.