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Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Gypsies face 'extreme prejudice'
Gypsy camp
Campaigners say travellers are Scotland's most marginalised group
Gypsy travellers are experiencing extreme levels of discrimination and vilification, a report has warned.

Holyrood's equal opportunities committee found that insufficient progress had been made in addressing their quality of life.

The committee found improvements across the country had been patchy and slow, following an earlier report in 2001.

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in Scotland said racism against the Gypsy community was rife.

Committee convener Cathy Peattie said: "The report takes a balanced view and highlights progress where we have seen evidence of it.

We are not moving fast enough to deliver effective services into this section of our community
Cathy Peattie MSP

"However, the evidence is clear and unequivocal - the progress made against our earlier recommendations is inadequate and inconsistent and the pace of progress is far too slow."

Ms Peattie added: "We have heard from Scotland's Gypsy travellers and other witnesses that they still suffer from an extreme level of discrimination, vilification and stereotyping and we are not moving fast enough to deliver effective services into this section of our community."

The committee will hold off publishing its final recommendations until it looks at the work of a Scottish Executive group being set up to investigate issues facing Gypsy travellers, expected next March.

Early deaths

The head of CRE Scotland, Ali Jarvis, said: "Scottish Gypsy travellers are one of the most marginalised communities within our society, routinely unable to access services the majority of us take for granted.

"This has a major impact - on average, Gypsy and traveller women live 12 years less than women in the general population and gypsy and traveller men 10 years less than men in the general population."

I am committed to addressing this
Johann Lamont
Deputy Minister for Communities

The CRE said many Travellers felt their lives had deteriorated rather than improved over the last four years.

The committee's 2001 report contained 37 recommendations covering accommodation, health, education, social services and criminal justice.

Deputy Minister for Communities Johann Lamont expressed concern over the findings.

She said: "Whilst progress has been made we recognise that the pace has not been as rapid as we and others would have liked it to have been. I am committed to addressing this.

"We are working closely with the Gypsy/traveller community and are spending an additional 1m per year specifically for Gypsy/traveller sites."


SEE ALSO:
Charity's anger over Gypsy rights
06 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Travellers win 'ethnic' status
08 Jan 02 |  Scotland


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