Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 8 October 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee On Key Issues Affecting The Traveller Community
Traveller Mental Health: Discussion (Resumed)
Ms Bridget Kelly:
There is an accommodation crisis. More needs to be done by the Government on the housing crisis for the Traveller community, the lack of Traveller-specific accommodation and the Traveller accommodation budget not being drawn down.
More needs to be done at local level too to address the Traveller accommodation crisis for our community. I personally have experience, where sites have been identified for families, of the lack of political will from councillors. A proposal would go to local authority meetings and be opposed by some councillors in the area. There is a lack of political will. We need greater political will.
We need to encourage more Travellers to take up political roles within the structure and the system. We have good allies, such as Deputy Ó Cuív. There are other politicians who stand with us but it is powerful to start to see our own community getting involved in politics.
We have done much work with the community at a local level. At a national level, with Mincéirs Whiden and ourselves, we encourage the community to vote and explain why it is important to vote. We had Travellers who put themselves forward to become politicians and to be involved in the decision-making. It has been a challenge. Mr. McCann touched on it earlier. Travellers did not get enough votes to get in, which was disappointing. At the same time, we will not give up. We will keep fighting for these positions and to be politicians.
In regard to education, I have seen at a local level that more needs to be done around the education system for the Traveller community. There needs to be more inclusion within the schools. As I mentioned earlier the yellow flag programme needs to be implemented in the schools because it has worked in certain areas. Travellers need to be included more.
Also, we need to see more Travellers going into third level education. We have seen a slight increase in the number of Travellers going on to third level in Galway. When I say "slight", I am talking about four or five Travellers. There could be ten. It is significant compared to what there have been but we need to see more. I do not know whether that answers Deputy Ó Cuív's question.