Roma identified as an ethnic group for the 2022 census

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The forthcoming Irish census will be the first to identify the Roma community as an ethnic group.

The census will take place on Sunday evening April 3, after being postponed last year due to Covid-19.

Traveler and Roma organizations have been calling for the introduction of a question on ethnicity for many years.

The first question on the ethnic origin of Travelers appeared in the 2006 census.

Roma representatives in Ireland welcomed the inclusion of their ethnicity.

Pavee Point community worker Gabi Muntean, who is part of the Roma team, said it was an important recognition for the community.

“We’re not Irish, but we’re Irish and Roma… it’s very important to recognize that, it’s our right to have that.”

Traveler and Roma teams and community workers will work with communities over the coming weeks to highlight the importance of self-identification in the census.

Vanessa Paszkowska said some in her community feared this issue, due to historical and current persecution.

She cites the example of her great-grandparents who were forced to wear armbands during the war with the letter Z – Zigeuner – which is the German word for Gypsy.

In the former Czechoslovakia, she said, it was legal to sterilize Roma women against their will to keep the Roma population under control.

“The segregation of Roma children in schools is still present and access to employment for us is difficult when you identify your ethnicity. So we hide our ethnicity to have equal access to rights, opportunities and just a overall treatment in “normal” society.

Ms Muntean stressed the importance for Roma to be assured that their data will not be used against them.

“People don’t have to think, if I give out my address and contact details, what are they going to do with it. Will they cause harm to me or my family? People don’t have to worry about that because everything will be confidential and no we will be allowed to look into it, ”she said.

The Roma team benefits from the advice of people such as Mary Brigid Collins, assistant coordinator of the primary health care project at the Pavee Point Traveler and Roma Centre.

Since 2006, Ms. Collins’ team and others across the country have worked closely with the CSO to familiarize Travelers with the census and highlight the importance of the question regarding their cultural background.

“The census is for the future, they’re looking at accommodation, they’re looking at education, it’s all very important for Travelers,” she says.

The field work with the CSO is reflected in the increasing number of Travelers filling in the census form.

In 2006, the number was 22,000. In 2016, this figure rose to 31,000. The aim is to increase it further in 2022.

Pavee Point has 25 primary health care projects and links to travel groups and organizations across the country.

Ms. Collins indicated that information will be provided via DVD, leaflets and discussions.

“We know there are a lot more Travelers and we know there are around 5,000 Roma in Ireland, but there are probably a lot more than that, so we need numbers, and we need to bring Travelers and Roma to identify themselves in the census.

Ms Paszkowska said ethnicity in the 2022 census is a big step forward as the Roma community faces many struggles.

“You feel like you’re screaming, you’re in a bubble, but no one hears you, and it feels like society is ignoring you, so being visible and having your ethnicity right there is like a push forward, it gives you a light in the tunnel,” she said.

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