Press Release

Micheál Martin addresses the National Conference on Traveller Health

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin T.D., today (29 June 2004) spoke at the Traveller health conference held in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

“Travellers are a distinct minority group of Irish people with their own culture and beliefs. Commitment to the prioritisation of Traveller health is crucial given the statistical evidence that the health status of Travellers is considerably poorer than that of the general population. Travellers have a right to appropriate access to Healthcare Services, which take into account their particular needs, culture and way of life” said the Minister.

The Minister mentioned the key actions proposed in “Traveller Health – A National Strategy 2002-2005” which have been implemented to date. He said that one of the most significant actions proposed in the Strategy i.e. the conduct of a Traveller Needs Assessment and Health Status Study to inform appropriate actions required in the area of Travellers’ health was currently being designed and that he expected the study to commence later this year.

Commenting on investment, Minister Martin said that over €8 million had been allocated since 1997 to Traveller health initiatives and that while the investment had been considerable and there had been significant progress in the implementation of the Strategy to date, continued sustained investment by his Department was required to improve the health status of Travellers.

The Minister acknowledged the concerns about the reforms of the health services and how they will impact on the provision of Traveller health and said that he was confident that the core principle of partnership between Travellers and Traveller groups and health board personnel in the development of services would form part of the reformed health system.