12 June : Hindus and Jews have urged Ireland to urgently empower and integrate its vulnerable Traveller community, who reportedly face blatant discrimination and social exclusion.
Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman; and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada and California in USA; in a statement in Nevada today, said that many of the Irish Travellers reportedly lived in deplorable conditions lacking basic requirements. According to reports, half of them died before their 39th birthday while a third of died before the age of 25. Their Infants were 10 times more likely to die before reaching the age of two.
Zed and Freirich argued that Traveller community in Ireland reportedly regularly faced prejudice, poverty, racism, hostility, stereotyping, scapegoating, harassment, illiteracy, unemployment, and distrust; experienced discrimination at an individual and institutional level; lacked in accommodation and access to credit; received inadequate healthcare; frequently denied access to various goods, services, and facilities; deficient in access to decision making and political representation; lacked equality of access, participation and outcome in education; etc.
Rajan Zed and Jonathan Freirich pointed out that it was 2009 and many of the Irish Travellers, the largest minority of the country, many times were arbitrarily told to leave the pubs, hotels, shops, hairdressers, launderettes, restaurants, leisure facilities, etc.; often experienced verbal or physical abuse because of their identity; and were even refused a drink sometimes. Many times the businesses served others before them. There were reports of even insurance companies refusing to provide them automobile coverage and they frequently faced difficulty obtaining hotels for wedding receptions. In a European Union (EU) survey of racial discrimination & abuse, Ireland reportedly figured among the worst of all EU countries.
This distinct group has reportedly existed for centuries that has its own traditions, culture, language, and customs. How much longer it would take for them to be accepted as a part of the Irish society, Zed and Freirich asked.
Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that church and other religious leaders of Ireland should openly voice support in their causes because religion told us to help the helpless. Traveller community, one of the most marginalized and disadvantaged groups in Irish society, which lived in intolerable conditions, needed rights rather than charity. Traveller community should be properly recognized in school curriculums so that the coming generations understand their culture better and treat them at equal level.
And the mission statement of Irish Human Rights Commission says: The mission of the Human Rights Commission is to endeavor to ensure that the human rights of all people in the State are fully realized and protected, in law, in policy and in practice. Where the Commission believes human rights are not being adequately protected, it will say so clearly and strongly, and will actively seek change in the law, policy or practice concerned.