Ireland cannot take the moral ground on condemning racism and needs to introduce concrete measures to address systemic, structural racism in Ireland, the co-director of Traveller representative organisation Pavee Point has said.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Martin Collins said that strong leadership is needed from the next Taoiseach and a national action plan should be implemented to combat racism.

He said the Government needs to move "beyond the rhetoric of condemnation" and show leadership to implement more robust legislation against hate speech and hate crime.

Mr Collins said that racism against the Travelling community is "embedded and deeply seeded" in Irish society.

He said "it's so embedded in the Irish psyche it has become almost normalised and acceptable to say and do things in a racist manner about Travellers that would not be said about other communities".

Mr Collins said racism is wrong, immoral, illegal and has a big impact on people's lives.

A number of national Traveller organisations issued a statement yesterday to express sympathy and solidarity over the death of George Floyd in police custody in the US.

Mr Collins condemned what he called the "institutional and structural racism and inequality" which is felt keenly by the Traveller community in Ireland.

He said the manifestation of institutional racism against Travellers is evident in the poor living conditions, 85% unemployment rate, low education and health inequalities they suffer.

Travellers have been subject to very racist language from the "body politic, from judges and from journalists", he added.

He also said Traveller children are bullied in schools and referred to by discriminatory language.

After "many false dawns and strategies and action plans" implementation of legislation is needed, Mr Collins added.

The Taoiseach has said he believes Ireland does have a racism problem, but said any country in the world has racism to some degree.

He said everyone is aware of how Travellers are treated and spoken about, which is a form of racism.

Speaking on RTÉ 2fm's breakfast show, he said that anyone in Ireland who grew up mixed race, as he did, is aware that they are treated differently. 

Mr Varadkar said he does not speak of his own experiences too much because "it hasn't held me back if anything it helped push me on" but said he does worry about black children growing up here who may not be treated as "fully Irish". 

He said progress has been made, including the recognition of Travellers as an ethnicity, and making it easier for people to become Irish citizens.

He said there are new things that need to be done, including new laws around hate crime and hate speech and we need an anti-racism campaign to raise awareness.