Irish In Britain’s open letter speaks out against racism


IRISH In Britain recently sent an open letter to the UK press in the wake of a distasteful and widely
criticised ‘joke’ by comedian Jimmy Carr directed at the Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT).

Brian Dalton (above), chief executive officer of Irish In Britain—the national charity supporting a wide network of diverse Irish organisations that make up its membership—joined with the charity’s chairperson, Darren Murphy, in penning the letter condemning not only Carr’s comments, but also the wider racism and discrimination that the GRT community are regularly faced with.

“The issues raised by Jimmy Carr’s abhorrent Holocaust ‘joke’ have sadly endured far too long,” the letter said. “We have of course been here before—casual, explicit and pointed attacks on those within the Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) community are not new. This familiarity should not blind or desensitise us to what is, in essence, simple racism.

“Impediments to equality for the GRT community are well documented. Barriers to education, employment and healthcare mean that the access to services taken for granted by the settled community are systematically denied to this group. As a reminder, these are minority ethnic communities who should benefit from protections under the 2010 Equality Act.

“Hate crime is all too common and platformed speech that is hateful from Jimmy Carr and others show that anti-GRT sentiment is mainstream, it is tacit, but it is unacceptable.

“Words hurt, and we recognise the deep distress this has caused amongst our Traveller member groups that we are proud to represent. But this is about more than discourse: the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a structural and formalised erosion of rights and protections on our fellow citizens, and an attack on the liberties we should all cherish.

“It would be reassuring to consider this moment as an opportunity to turn the dial and change the narrative, if not the law, in support of our community. But that can only happen by calling this out with actions for equality.”

“The Irish community in Britain know the trauma of being on the margins, our history should be a catalyst to shape this conversation for positive change,” the letter continued. “We should look within ourselves to be the change we want to see or else forfeit the mandate we have worked so hard to establish in this country—respect, civic participation and recognition of all migrant contributions.

“Irish in Britain stands against racism and discrimination in all forms, and we are unequivocal GRT community allies. We will continue to make that case every day.”