A Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission investigation into Travellers’ accommodation which was launched in Derry yesterday has identified 13 systematic concerns, it has emerged.

The report, entitled "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" is the first major report on the subject in Northern Ireland for almost a decade.

It was launched at the North West Migrant Centre in Derry yesterday.

Problems raised include inadequate sites and racial discrimination.

For the purposes of the report ‘Traveller’ is used as an umbrella term for any member of a traditional Gypsy or Traveller community living in or travelling through NI with a long-shared history, culture and traditions that includes identifying with or continuing to practice a nomadic way of life.

Community worker Kat Healy said: “In the Western Trust area, as well as across the border in Letterkenny, we have large communities of Travellers and it's great that they have been able to attend the launch in Derry to hear first-hand that the NIHRC is publicly advocating on behalf of them on issues we have been raising for the last few years.

“Here in Derry, the title of the report rings very true in that the largest gathering of Travellers is in the Ballyarnett site on the very periphery of the city - it would be hard to pinpoint another place in the city that could be better described as 'out of sight, out of mind'.

Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Les Allamby commented: “Travellers face the unpalatable choice of living in poor conditions to retain their culture or moving into standard social housing at the expense of their way of life.

“We have found examples of inadequate facilities such as washing units not fit for purpose in the Northern Ireland climate, fire and other health and safety issues that need to be remedied.

“The Commission is concerned that legislation, policy and a lack of service provision amounts to an attitude of ‘out of sight, out of mind'.”

A Traveller interviewed during the course of the investigation commented: “all Travellers are square pegs and [the public authorities] are trying to place them into round holes”

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