Photographic exhibition challenges stereotypes of Roma

Thu, February 27, 2014


Roma: One People — Many LivesMembers of the Roma community will gather in City Hall today with Nasc, the Equality Authority and Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre for the launch of an exhibition to challenge stereotypes of Roma people living in Ireland. Roma: One People – Many Lives is a photographic exhibition and provides a unique opportunity to meet a number of Roma people who live, study and work here in Ireland. It also shows that people from the Roma community face many challenges in Ireland. Many find it difficult to gain employment, others report experience of discrimination when trying to access housing and support and services such as social welfare and healthcare. Pavee Point and Nasc have noted high levels of violence, including attached on houses and verbal abuse.

There are approximately 10 –12 million Roma people living in Europe. This means that they are the largest minority ethnic group in Europe. While there are no official statistics, Pavee Point estimates that there are around 5,000 Roma living in Ireland. Many of the Irish Roma community originally come from Romania. However, many others come from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria.

Roma have faced a history of racism for centuries. The Holocaust had a devastating impact on their community. While there is no definitive figure available, estimates put the number of people killed in the hundreds of thousands. Experiences of racism and discrimination continue today across Europe. Public leaders have used racist language against Roma and Travellers. In some European countries violence and hate crime against Roma is rising. Many Roma children are educated separately from other children, and many leave school early. Roma and Traveller families are also repeatedly at risk of forced eviction from their homes and often experience discrimination when looking for somewhere to live.

Dr. Mary Murphy, Acting Chair of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Designate), in launching the exhibition said “This exhibition creates a real opportunity to showcase positive images of Roma people living in Ireland and to challenge the prejudice and stigma experienced by many Roma people living here. It plays a key role in promoting the inclusion of Roma in Irish society. It is very timely as the Council of the European Union has recommended that Member States, including Ireland, take steps to achieve Roma integration and strengthen the implementation of their national Roma integration and inclusion strategies with a view to promoting full equality in practice. The aim of these strategies is to improve the situation of Roma and close any gaps between Roma and the general population to ensure their equal treatment and the respect of their fundamental rights, including equal access to education, employment, healthcare and housing.”

Gabi Muntean, Pavee Point, said:

“Within the EU the term Roma is used to describe groups of people with more or less similar cultural characteristics, such as Roma, Sinti, Kale, Travellers (including Irish Travellers) and Gens du voyage. For me and my family, we want to let people know that Ireland is our home now, we are proud to be Irish and Roma, and to be a part of Irish society. I am working here. But it’s not easy for a Roma woman, wherever we go we face racism and discrimination.”

Jennifer DeWan, Nasc, said:

“The reality for many Roma people living in Ireland is that they are marginalised and experience high rates of stigma and prejudice. They experience barriers to accessing employment and services. Many also experience poverty and social deprivation.”

Manu Paun said:

“For me, it was really important to be part of this exhibition so that I could tell my story as a Roma person living here in Ireland. I hope that it will help people to see Roma people as human beings trying to make the best of life, with hopes and dreams like everyone else.”

Roma: One People – Many Lives will be exhibited in the The Rotunda at City Hall until 5th March 2014. The exhibition will be available for use by statutory, community and voluntary organisations at events and conferences and for display in public spaces such as libraries and schools.

Who: The Equality Authority, Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre and Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre
What: Launch Roma: One People – Many Lives photographic exhibition
Where: The Rotunda at City Hall, Dame Street, Dublin 2
When: 4pm, Friday 28 February 2014

The official exhibition Launch Invite and Information Leaflet are available to download.

Roma: One People — Many Lives