Children in the Irish Traveller community are at a disadvantage from the moment they are born. Infant mortality is over three times higher, suicide is six to seven times higher and life expectancy is over a decade lower than the general population.
Good mental and physical health, skills such as reading and maths, employment and resources all contribute to a good childhood, according to a recent UNICEF report. However, the statistics facing young Irish Mincéiri paint a ‘bleak picture’, according to Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre.
High levels of poverty and unemployment have been further compounded by the Covid-19 crisis. Pavee Point say these financial difficulties place significant barriers in accessing education. Almost 60% of Traveller households had no internet in the 2016 census, which added another obstacle to education during lockdown.
Less than 1% of Travellers go on to third-level education compared to over 50% in the general population. Funding was announced by the Government to help with progression to third-level but a National Traveller Education Strategy has yet to be published.
Play and leisure facilities were also identified as important in the UNICEF report as they provide “a stimulating social and learning environment”.
However, overcrowding of housing is seven times the national rate, with around 1,700 Travellers living on the roadside without basic facilities. In spite of this, it was revealed that nine local authorities had not drawn down any of the €14.5 million funding budgeted for Traveller accommodation in 2020.
With the Government and public bodies aware of these stark statistics, is enough being done to help give Traveller children a good start in life?
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We want to investigate if sufficient supports are being provided to Traveller children in terms of healthcare, education and other crucial factors for a good childhood, as identified by UNICEF.
Though funding was announced in 2020 for the third-level sector, we want to find out what is being done in regards to the promised education strategy. We will also investigate if promised investment in community-based support mechanisms as this was a key initiative for education retention in the Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy.
Finally, we want to examine child poverty within the Traveller community and see if this is being measured by authorities and what actions are being taken to reduce and prevent it.
Have you any information that you think would help this investigation? Contact us at [email protected]
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