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Irish Traveller Movement say Travellers are being locked out of the political process

The Irish Traveller Movement has highlighted a number of challenges facing Travellers when it comes to participation in the electoral process.  

The ITM made the remarks in its submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage debate on the draft Electoral Reform Bill.

One of the key aims of the Electoral Reform Bill is to provide a framework to support voter education and voter turnout at elections and referendums.

According to the Irish Traveller Movement however, encouraging greater Traveller voter participation will require proof that the system will deliver for Travellers.

The ITM also say that there are between 45,000 to 57,000 Travellers resident in the State and that 60% are under 25 years of age with just 3% over 65 years.

It is the view of the Irish Traveller Movement that given the communities population size and age – the political system of proportional representation statistically disadvantages Travellers when competing with non-Travellers in elections.

A more successful gateway for some Travellers was election to town councils, which have been abolished. The ITM also say that when national policy decisions are made, Travellers should be part of how democracy happens.

As an example of how this does not happen, they point to the deficits in the current model of the Citizens Assembly. Members of the Assembly are in theory selected at random from the electoral register.

But according to the ITM, Travellers are not always on the Register and so are unlikely to be included in the Assemblies. Given this, the ITM say, “It’s difficult to see that it is true to its remit, in reflecting Irish society”.

The Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality was criticised last week after it emerged that it had wilfully exceeded the investigative scope of the Oireachtas Resolution setting out its terms of reference.

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