Anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain

Conn Mac Gabhann details the shocking normalcy of anti-traveller rhetoric

 

Conn Mac Gabhann is the Manager of the traveller project at the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain.

When my mother came to England in the 1950s to work as a nurse, the signs on the boarding houses said ‘No Blacks, No Irish.’ She described it as normal.

You couldn’t get away with putting up signs like that now.

That’s what I thought. Or really, what I thought was that nobody, even if they were racist, would be stupid enough to erect signs like that and attract the attention of the police.

I was wrong. And I was wrong on two counts. Firstly, because there are people stupid enough to put up the signs. Secondly, because I assumed that the police and the CPS would pursue these people under race relations legislation.

Before Christmas, I was walking up through a back street in north London when I noticed a pub that had a sign that read ‘Travellers strictly by appointment only.’

I thought it was a mistake, so the next day I went back to the pub with my colleague Joe. The signs were there alright – three of them making it clear that Travellers weren’t wanted.

Even though I’ve heard a lot of racism towards Travellers, I was surprised that in multi-cultural London a sign like that could remain in the open for some time. We took photos and reported the sign to the police, who promised they would investigate.

I went to the police station and made a long statement, stressing the seriousness of the crime. I made the point that such racist incidences prevent Travellers from getting legal work and getting on with their lives.

I stated that when there are signs like that it’s not surprising that many Travellers in prison point to discrimination in schools and society as one factor that put them on the path to offending.

I stressed that, like everybody else, Travellers have a responsibility for their own actions. But I added that whenever Travellers as a group are singled out for unfair treatment it just means this section of society feel unjustly treated. Then everybody loses.

It is in the interests of the police and society that they pursue these cases of discrimination, otherwise Travellers will rightly feel aggrieved and disconnected.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from Islington Police Station. The CPS have decided not to pursue any action against the pub.

The next time I’m in a prison and a young man whispers to me that at school he had to stand on a chair in assembly while he was called a ‘dirty gypo,’ I’ll think, like my mother, that that’s normal.

See also:

“Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, DianeDaniel Elton, January 5th 2012

What will Cameron do to end the racism of the young Conservatives?Alex Hern, November 23rd 2011

Has racism returned to football?Shamik Das, October 25th 2011

End of the road for Dale Farm?Kevin Meagher, October 13th 2011

The ‘Dalits’ of Dale Farm have needs tooKevin Meagher, September 1st 2011

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today. 

31 Responses to “Anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain”

  1. MakarObo

    Anti-traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain, writes Conn Mac Gabhann of @irishchaplaincy: http://t.co/5G3P3YqB

  2. Guest

    Surely it should be Traveller not traveller… they are an ethnic group and deserve a capital letter 🙂

  3. David Gillon

    Anti-traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain, writes Conn Mac Gabhann of @irishchaplaincy: http://t.co/5G3P3YqB

  4. Joe Cottrell-Boyce

    CPS refuses to pursue our complaint regarding anti-Traveller discrimination. Read about it on @leftfootfwd http://t.co/TOUHFh4Q

  5. John Finnie

    Anti-traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain, writes Conn Mac Gabhann of @irishchaplaincy: http://t.co/5G3P3YqB

  6. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : Anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain http://t.co/NXF0bLc3

  7. Sarah AB

    Does this not mean *commercial* travellers?

  8. Sarah AB

    Or maybe it is aimed at the travelling community (given that the term ‘commercial traveller’ is barely used now) but making a sort of play on words – otherwise the ‘by appointment only’ bit seems odd.

  9. Guest

    the signs are very common and squarely aimed at Travellers. The ‘by appointment only’ bit is an attempt to get around charges of racism that a simple ‘No Travellers’ would generate. Legally though, by appointment only directed at an ethnic group is still overt discrimination under RR act.

  10. Mr. Sensible

    There should be no place for that in modern society.

  11. Janet Graham

    Anti-traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain, writes Conn Mac Gabhann of @irishchaplaincy: http://t.co/5G3P3YqB

  12. Trakgalvis

    Anti-traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain, writes Conn Mac Gabhann of @irishchaplaincy: http://t.co/5G3P3YqB

  13. Dr Birgit Kehrer

    Anti-traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain, writes Conn Mac Gabhann of @irishchaplaincy: http://t.co/5G3P3YqB

  14. petersen

    Anti-traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain, writes Conn Mac Gabhann of @irishchaplaincy: http://t.co/5G3P3YqB

  15. TJHuntington

    could the police complaints body help perhaps?

  16. Spir.Sotiropoulou

    RT @leftfootfwd: Anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain http://t.co/3Xqy9ICr

  17. Facey Romford

    Yes, this refers to ‘commercial travellers’, alias cold-calling salesmen; such signs have always been common and their meaning universally understood. You may have a little egg on your chops over this!

  18. Noxi

    RT @leftfootfwd Anti-traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged.., writes Conn Mac Gabhann of @irishchaplaincy: http://t.co/aGgcJYi0

  19. Joe Cottrell-Boyce

    No it did not mean Commercial Travellers. After investigating and questioning the pub owner the police were fully satisfied that the signs were discriminatory. It was the CPS who decided not to take it further.

    Joe – ICB

  20. Geraint

    Sadly, bigots exist everywhere. It is ashame that the CPS didn’t take action, it by letting such ignorance go unchallenged that creates resentment and re-enforces the idea that it is kind of behaviour is acceptable in society. It is not.

  21. Sarah AB

    Thanks to those who have responded to my question – I’m quite happy to accept that the signs were discriminatory.

  22. Shamik Das

    On the subject of racism, read our shocking report on how anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged: http://t.co/jQeQiRsV #BBCqt

  23. Alex Watkins

    On the subject of racism, read our shocking report on how anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged: http://t.co/jQeQiRsV #BBCqt

  24. David Forman

    On the subject of racism, read our shocking report on how anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged: http://t.co/jQeQiRsV #BBCqt

  25. keith ferguson

    On the subject of racism, read our shocking report on how anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged: http://t.co/jQeQiRsV #BBCqt

  26. Rob Jarrett

    On the subject of racism, read our shocking report on how anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged: http://t.co/jQeQiRsV #BBCqt

  27. Janet Graham

    On the subject of racism, read our shocking report on how anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged: http://t.co/jQeQiRsV #BBCqt

  28. Noxi

    RT @leftfootfwd …read our shocking report on how anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged: http://t.co/7QRsnfZ6 #BBCqt

  29. Just Say Noam

    RT @leftfootfwd …read our shocking report on how anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged: http://t.co/7QRsnfZ6 #BBCqt

  30. Coalition’s new planning policy will make more Dale Farm style stand-offs inevitable | Left Foot Forward

    […] See also: • Anti-Traveller attitudes continue to go unchallenged in Britain 29 Feb […]

Leave a Reply