Irish Travellers Access to Justice

Submitted by Research Team

Our names are Dr. Sindy Joyce (post-doctoral researcher), Margaret O’ Brien (peer-researcher) and Olive O’ Reilly (peer researcher), we are Travellers/Mincéirs and are currently working with Professor Amanda Haynes and Dr. Jennifer Schweppe carrying out a research study at the University of Limerick. This project has been funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Irish Research Council.

The name of the research project is ‘Irish Travellers Access to Justice’. By the end of this study, we hope to have a better understanding of the relationships between our community and the Gardaí and courts system.

Evidence from research done by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency has shown that Irish Travellers are more likely to be stopped and searched than the general white Irish Settled population. Also, the Independent Expert for the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Mr Murillo Martinez, stated that “The high number of Travellers in prison, especially women and children is clearly racial profiling”.

We want to find out how you feel about the police and the courts in Ireland.

Do you think you are treated fairly by the guards and the courts?

What are your experiences?

The most important part of this research will be hearing the voices of Travellers on the ground. Without your stories and opinions, we cannot gather the evidence that is needed to show the truth of our everyday experiences with the guards and the courts. We will interview Travellers including those living in standard housing, halting sites (both official and unofficial), group housing schemes, yards, and on the side of the road etc. These interviews will take place over the phone or by video calls with members of the research team and will take about one hour. Although we would have liked to do these interviews face to face, due to Covid19 restrictions we cannot travel around to the various parts of the country to interview people. We really need to hear your story.

We are also going to interview people working in national and local Traveller organisations, particularly those who work directly with or on behalf of individuals and families that have had or are having ongoing experiences with the guards and the criminal courts system. Later, in the project we will also be doing some focus groups with Travellers who have a disability, older Travellers, young Travellers, LGBTQI+ Travellers etc.

We will NOT be sharing any of your personal information, like your name, at any stage to anyone. This means that no-one will be able to tell who you are or even that you took part in the research.

For us, as Travellers conducting this research in collaboration with the University of Limerick, we completely understand our community’s privacy, respect and dignity while doing these interviews. It is important for us that this research is Traveller led and the voices of Travellers on the ground are heard loud and clear. We hope to have the support of our community and we look forward to your important contribution.

If you are interested in taking part in this research or would like to find out more information, please contact the following:


Olive O’ Reilly

Olive is a member of the Traveller community from Limerick city. She has devoted many years advocating and supporting her community on a voluntary capacity. Olive is extremely passionate about human rights and in particular promoting equal opportunities for all Travellers. Olive previously worked in her local primary health care organisation and completed a diploma in ‘women’s studies’ in UL.  She also played an active role in leading out the ‘Limerick Travellers Covid-19 voluntary support group’ last year. Olive was also one of the Traveller researchers involved in the ‘All Ireland Health Study’ and is currently working with the University of Limerick as a peer researcher on the ‘Irish Travellers Access to Justice’ study.

Margaret E O’ Brien

Margaret O’Brien

Margaret is a member of the Traveller community originally from Tralee, Co, Kerry, but has been living in Co, Limerick for many years. She has worked for various organisations in Limerick city over the past twenty years as a social care worker, supporting people around addiction, mental health, homelessness and domestic abuse. Some of her many passions outside of her advocacy role, includes working and supporting Traveller families around domestic abuse and Traveller children in foster care. She also played an active role in the ‘Limerick Traveller Covid 19 support group’ on a voluntary basis. Margaret is currently completing her 3rd year in BSc psychology at the University of Limerick.

Dr. Sindy Joyce

Dr. Sindy Joyce

Sindy is a Mincéir/Traveller from Newcastle West, County Limerick. She is a Human Rights Defender (HRD), a sociologist and a member of President Michael D Higgins Council of State. Her research focuses on Human Rights, racism, hate crime, ethnicity/identity, and social/political constructions of Irish Travellers. Her PhD thesis ‘Mincéirs Siúladh: An ethnographic study of young Travellers’ experiences of racism in an Irish city’ addressed the original and important question of how anti-Traveller racism shapes young people’s use of and movement through public space. Sindy is also on the anti-racism committee for the National Action Plan Against Racism. In 2019, Sindy was part of the Irish delegation to present evidence to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the treatment of Travellers in Ireland.

Professor Amanda Haynes

Amanda is a sociologist, originally from County Galway, now working at the University of Limerick. Her research looks at prejudice against minorities, and minorities’ relationships with police.

Dr. Jennifer Schweppe

Jennifer is a legal scholar and is based at the University of Limerick School of Law. Her research looks at crimes against minority communities, and minorities’ access to justice.

For further details on the project, you can go to our website You can also contact us by email or by phone.   Our email address is   Our phone numbers are: Sindy Joyce – 086-0837992 Margaret O’Brien – 086-0138840 Olive O’Reilly – 086-0837995 Amanda Haynes – 086-0837991 Jennifer Schweppe – 086 0837989

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