The number of Roma in Ireland is roughly estimated, as the Central Statistics Office collects its data based on nationality and not ethnic origin. For this reason a precise demographic profile of the Roma in Ireland is not available. Some estimates of Roma in Ireland give the population at 1,700 in 2004 rising to between 2,500 to 3,000 in 2005 with the majority originating from Romania. The Roma are distinct from the indigenous Irish Traveller community, but face many similar social difficulties. Roma in Ireland are sometimes referred to as "Gypsies". The Roma originate from Eastern and central European states.
After the collapse of communism in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, thousands of Roma, among others, sought asylum in Ireland and other Western countries. Their arrival prompted contrasting editorials in the mainstream newspapers. In 1988, Roma started to arrive in Ireland, predominantly by hiding in container lorries. In the summer of 1998, several hundred Roma arrived hidden in freight containers in Rosslare Harbour, many of them illegally trafficked.
A second impetus for Roma immigration arose after the admittance of an additional 15 states to the European Union, with the populations coming to Dublin and the other major towns and cities.