Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre wins international award

Max van der Stoel Award recognises centre’s work towards social justice and equality

Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre has won an international prize in recognition of its work in helping two communities in Ireland with "a long history of multiple and intersectional discrimination".

The €50,000 Max van der Stoel Award is named after the distinguished Dutch statesman and first high commissioner on national minorities at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The biennial award was established by the Netherlands' ministry of foreign affairs in 2001.

It is bestowed on an individual, group or institution in recognition of “extraordinary and outstanding achievements” in promoting integration and social cohesion.

‘Vulnerable communities’

The jury noted in particular that while Covid-19 has exposed how “persistent societal inequalities have left many vulnerable communities in an even more precarious situation”, Pavee Point has worked to mitigate the negative implications of the pandemic for the Roma and Traveller communities in Ireland.


Pavee Point said the award acknowledges its contribution during the current health crisis.

"The ongoing pandemic has demonstrated the value of a strong Traveller health infrastructure underpinned by community development as Traveller organisations, Traveller primary healthcare projects and Traveller health units mobilised across the country, working collectively to ensure that Travellers and Roma, especially those who are most vulnerable, are protected," said co-director Ronnie Fay.

Cultural bias

In its announcement on Thursday, the OSCE said the Roma and Traveller communities in Ireland had experienced poverty, unemployment, lack of educational opportunity, decreased life expectancy, cultural bias and social stereotyping.

Pavee Point "courageously and continuously seeks to celebrate the cultures and traditions of both communities in an inclusive manner by advocating for participation, social justice and genuine equality," said OSCE high commissioner on national minorities Lamberto Zannier.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee offered her own congratulations, saying the organisation “works tirelessly in addressing inequality in Irish society”.

While announced on Thursday, an official award ceremony is scheduled to take place in The Hague in November.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times