In March we’ve seen visits to the High Court, new notices served by Basildon council and some heavy criticism of the Dale Farm eviction by an EU commissioner. Here’s a roundup of how the media covered it…
The month began with the fall out from Thomas Hammaberg’s pointed letter demanding the UK Government ‘end the disgrace’ at Dale Farm still in full swing. Hammaberg, the Council of Europe’s commissioner on Human Rights, highlighted the unsafe conditions the families had been left in post-eviction. He also criticised the lack of provision for Travellers, Gypsies and Roma in the UK and the failure of government policy to address this. The more humorous reaction came, surprise surprise, from the Daily Mail, who exclaimed ‘EU must be joking!’ – clearly a stock headline for them.
On the 21st March we found out the decision of the High Court on the cases of Mary Flynn, John Sheridan & Barbara O’Brien. Lawyers acting for the three had argued that Basildon council had a legal duty to provide ‘culturally appropriate accommodation’ for them after their eviction from Dale Farm. All three have serious medical conditions. Rather predictably Lord Justice Patten and Pitchford rejected this and yet again illustrated the way in which UK law can facilitate discrimination against Roma, Gypsy and Travellers. As evicted Dale Farm resident Mary Sheridan said in the Independent, ‘the law in the UK wants to destroy the Traveller way of life’.
Tony Ball, who was clearly still smarting from his embarrassment at the hands of TSN, immediately issued new notices for the homeless families living on Oak Lane on the back of the High Court decision. The ever brilliant Kathleen McCarthy gave her response to the BBC and again put Basildon Council and central government to shame. The daily struggle families living on Oak Lane and those pitched up on their friend’s plots was further illustrated in this brilliant piece by our very own Elly Robson for Red Pepper.
On the international scene, the Irish government has been called upon to explain why it rejected a recommendation from peer UN states to recognise Travellers as a separate ethnic group. A Pavee Point spokesperson said the Irish government “has not come up with any justifiable rationale as to why” Irish Travellers should not be recognised as an ethnic group.
Early next month, International Roma Nation Day will highlight the discrimination faced by Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities globally, with an event taking place in London, as well as actions all across the world.
In a more lighthearted story, two Tory councillors stormed out of a council meeting in Brighton after being brought up on their racist attitudes by the Green council’s chair.
… And finally a really uplifting letter published in the Leicester Mercury from an active local resident Serinna Leeanne. In the letter she highlights the racism faced by local Travellers as well as the fantastic work they do for the local area ; “We had young girls face-painting, a young man brought his horse to give rides to the kids, the parents even helped out with the barbecue, so by including this community in our project, we have gained mutual respect which we can only develop upon”.
See you in April…