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Infant mortality almost 3 times higher for Travellers 

A report has detailed enormous differences in rates of infant deaths and maternal deaths in the Traveller Community in contrast with other sections of society. 

In its submission to the final Report, The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) stated that Traveller women are overrepresented in those experiencing severe maternal morbidity and that of the 374 perinatal deaths in 2016, eight (2.1%) of the mothers identified as Irish Traveller compared to 0.7% of the population of women aged fifteen to forty-nine years identifying as Irish Traveller.

Regarding infant mortality rates, the ICGP report that per 1,000 live births, infant mortality rate in the general Population is 3.9 whereas in the Traveller population it is 14.1.

The Joint Committee into Key Issues facing the Traveller Community has published its final report into inequalities faced by the Traveller Community.

The report has made 80 recommendations including mandatory cultural awareness and anti-racism training to be rolled out across all State services that engage with the Traveller community.

The Committee also recommended that a National Traveller Mental Health Strategy, as promised in the Programme for Government, should be implemented. This should deliver programmes and therapies centred on Traveller culture with particular attention to be given to the potential of Equine therapy and Traveller horse ownership as a mechanism for Traveller mental health promotion.

In the area of education,the report recommends that intercultural and anti-racism training should be rolled out to all serving teachers as a mandatory part of their Continuing Professional Development and that affirmative action policies should be introduced to encourage more people from ethnic minority backgrounds, including Travellers, to enter teaching.

When it comes to addressing the challenges around accommodation the Committee’s report says that a National Traveller Accommodation Authority should be established to oversee the development and implementation of Traveller accommodation policy. This would include a ‘Traveller Identifier’ on social housing application forms.

The Minceirs Whiden submission to the report stated that the Traveller community is ’haemorrhaging people’ through chronic illness and ill health caused by poverty and poor living conditions, through addiction and suicide, social isolation and exclusion.

Commenting at the launch of the report, Committee Chair Senator Eileen Flynn remarked, “this report will mean nothing if the recommendations are not implemented. Most importantly, it would mean a loss of hope for many Travellers who need those actions to be implemented as soon as possible.”

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