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Abstract

Following years of lobbying by Human Rights NGOs working with Roma and Travellers and despite centuries of oppression, Roma issues have only recently become prominent on the EU policy agenda. Similarly, Children’s Rights issues, and in particular Early Childhood Care and Education, have surfaced after years of being the second class citizen to ‘formal’ education. Why is this happening now? This article discusses the recent policy developments in Europe regarding Roma and Traveller integration and Early Childhood Provision, drawing at the same time on the Irish experience for analysis and insights on policy and practice. We are all aware of initiatives that have been supported through EU or national funding streams which have little impact on the structures or operations of the general education or training systems. International reports highlight this deficit stating that such initiatives are unlikely to bring about the necessary ideological and systemic changes and, for this reason, their added value as well as their sustainability remains questionable. This paper concludes by arguing that that programmes like the ‘éist’ project demonstrate that it is possible to move on from fragmented initiatives and bring about systemic change.

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