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So what are the rules for the Roma in Ireland?

In Ireland, as in other countries, all the evidence suggests that little or no progress has been made in integrating Roma immigrants into mainstream society.

In 2007, the Irish government implemented 'transitionary measures' restricting some immigrants from accessing the labour market here.

"People from Romania are EU nationals but they face many restrictions in terms of securing work," Brian Killoran from the Immigrant Council of Ireland explains.

"They either need a residency history in Ireland prior to 2007, or if they arrived after that date they can apply for a work permit which is very difficult to acquire.

"However, if somebody from the EU does not have a passport, then a National Identity Card is a perfectly valid form of ID for free entry into this country."

While there are no figures indicating the exact number of Roma living here, Brian says the widely held belief that they receive generous social welfare payments is far from accurate.

"It is a misconception that Roma who enter the country are automatically entitled to some form of assistance.

"If somebody doesn't have any work history in the State, or doesn't have any family connections in the State, it's really, really difficult for them to access anything.

"In our experience, most people from a Roma background aren't receiving any payments," he added.

"Many Roma in Ireland face discrimination and this places them in a very vulnerable position,'' says Siobhan Curran from Pavee Point, which offers assistance to members of the community in this country.

"There are issues surrounding employment as they must have a work permit, which is a barrier to getting a proper job," she added.

"Census data from Romania shows that on average a Roma child attends school for seven years. Therefore, some Roma beg out of necessity -- for them it's definitely not a lifestyle choice,'' she said.

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