Submission of the Second Compulsory State Report under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern T.D., announced today Ireland's submission of its second report under the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities to the Council of Europe. The report was approved by the Government on 20 December. This report will be available on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs: www.dfa.ie
The report provides information on legislative and administrative measures in place to protect the rights of national minorities in Ireland, including the Traveller community. The report highlights issues such as education, employment, health care, access to goods and services, accommodation and combating racism.
In announcing the submission of the report the Minister said:
“Ireland's support for the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is a manifestation of our deep commitment to the Council of Europe, and the continuing relevance for Ireland of its the work, and forms an integral part of the Irish Government's overall human rights strategy.
The report demonstrates the Government's commitment to fulfilling its obligations under this important multilateral instrument. It details the work of the Government in progressing the National Action Plan on Racism, the National Action Plan Against Poverty and Social Exclusion, and measures to strengthen equality legislation. This means that Ireland now has one of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination codes in Europe, which is backed up by a range of statutory bodies charged with guarding against discrimination.
Ireland is no longer an homogenous society. We must work continuously towards building inclusive communities and intercultural respect. In this context, the Traveller Community is an important, distinct cultural minority in Irish society, and is a target group for positive action. The high priority attached by the Government to the Travelling Community is reflected in the resources given to Traveller-specific programmes, particularly in the areas of accommodation, education, and health. In that context:
• The High Level Group on Traveller Issues hope to bring forward proposals in the New Year to secure better outcomes for Travellers at national and local level.
• Local authority Traveller accommodation programmes (2000-2004) have seen €130 million invested in the provision of new Traveller-specific accommodation, and in refurbishing existing accommodation, with some 1371 additional families provided with permanent, secure accommodation.
• Since its launch in 2002, some €4.9m has been allocated to the National Traveller Health Strategy, aimed at improving the health status of Travellers.”
Note for editors:
The Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was opened for signature, and was signed by Ireland, on 1 February 1995. Ireland ratified the Convention on 7 May 1999, in accordance with a commitment given by the Government in the context of the Good Friday Agreement. It entered into force with respect to Ireland on 1 September 1999. The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities specifies the legal principles states must undertake to respect in order to ensure the protection of national minorities within their borders. Under the terms of the Convention, Ireland is required to submit its second report in 2005. Ireland submitted its first state report under the Framework Convention on 13 November 2001.
The report deals in particular with the Traveller community, who enjoy specific protection against discrimination under Irish law.
The second state report was drafted following submissions from the Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Health and Children, Finance, Education and Science, Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Environment and Local Government, Social and Family Affairs, the Taoiseach, and the Garda Síochána. The views of NGOs and civil society groups were also sought in the preparation of this report. Following submission to the Council of Europe, the report will be examined by the Advisory Committee established under the Convention. The examination will involve a study visit to Ireland early in 2006 by members of the Committee.
21st December 2005