Press Release

Minister Callelly launches the position paper “A Community Genetics Approach to Health and Consanguineous Marriage in the Irish Traveller Community”

Mr Ivor Callely, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, launched the position paper A Community Genetics Approach to Health and Consanguineous Marriage in the Irish Traveller Community.

Consanguinity, sometimes called “intermarriage”, is defined as the marriage of partners who are biologically related as second cousins or closer. There is evidence that cousin marriages are more common among Travellers, and concerns have been raised over the outcome to children born to such marriages.

The Traveller Consanguinity Working Group was set up in November 2000. The primary role of the Working Group was to review the issues relating to consanguinity among Irish Travellers and to make recommendations on the provision of community genetics services to the Traveller community. The results of this review and specific recommendations are contained in the position paper that is being launched today.

“My Department welcomes the production of this position paper, which responds to the Task Force Report recommendation and which is also referred to in “Traveller Health – A National Strategy 2002-2005″ which states that the Department of Health and Children will take account of the findings of the Traveller Consanguinity Working Group” said the Minister.

The Minister also stated that the position paper and its conclusions and recommendations were currently being examined in his Department. He understood that the paper had also been forwarded to other stakeholders such as the Church and health professionals for discussion and feedback and that following feedback, an action plan would be drawn up for the implementation of the paperĀ“s recommendations.

Minister Callely commended the Traveller Consanguinity Working Group for the production of this position paper that represented a common position on consanguinity from health professionals, the Church and Traveller organisations and wished them well with their further deliberations.