Filmmaker John Connors slams British holiday firm Pontins over blacklist of Irish traveller surnames

Filmmaker John Connors has slammed British holiday firm Pontins after it was revealed the company used a blacklist of popular Irish surnames to keep Traveller families out of parks.

It emerged yesterday the holiday park, which operates five camps in England and one in Wales, created a shocking list on Pontins intranet and was used in a system of routine discrimination against Traveller families.

Surnames on the list included Boyle, Connors, Carney, Carr, Doherty, Horan, Delaney, Gallagher, McGinley, McMahon, McGuinness, Murphy, Nolan, OBrien, ODonoghue, Ward and ODonnell, with staff told: We do not want these guests on our parks.

Reacting to the list, Love/Hate star Connors told us: No surprise. If youre a Traveller reading that news, its just a regular day.

"This is everyday life for us. Not allowed in clubs, pubs, bars, hotels, restaurants, gyms, shops and segregation in schools like myself.

"Pushed to the outskirts of every city and town. Never wanting to assimilate but segregation and rejection makes it so hard to just integrate.

Traveller children are put on the criminal database from birth. Where does this end? Concentration camps in the Phoenix Park like one Presidential campaigner suggested? It seems every single other minority in this country is embraced except Travellers. Its the last acceptable form of racism in this country and indeed every country we live in. God help the next generation.

Martin Collins, co-director of Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre, said: This case shows not only how discrimination against Travellers is an ongoing issue but also discrimination against Irish people in general in the UK.

People with an Irish accent were targeted by Pontins for negative treatment as well as Irish Travellers.

This highlights the vulnerability of minority ethnic groups to discrimination and racism.

We know anecdotally that similar bans on Travellers is a common practice throughout Ireland especially in restaurants, bars, hotels and retail.

Banning a particular ethnic group is a despicable practice. It precludes people from participating equally in society.
Pontins was probed after a company whistle-blower disclosed the list to the Equality and Human Rights Commission in February last year.

The EHRC said it had signed a legally binding agreement with Britannia Jinky Jersey Ltd, the parent firm of Pontins, forcing the company to change its booking system and hire new diversity officers.

But a spokesman for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned Pontins actions as completely unacceptable.

And Alastair Pringle, executive director at the EHRC, said the list recalled notorious signs in Britain from the 1950s when some landlords advertised rooms with the condition No Blacks, no Irish.

To say that such policies are outdated is an understatement, Mr Pringle said in a statement.

It is right to challenge such practices and any business that believes this is acceptable should think again before they find themselves facing legal action.

If the Pontins operator fails to apply the required changes, it faces the prospect of a fuller investigation and eventual prosecution under Britains Equality Act.

A spokesperson for the company said: Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited has agreed to work together with the Equality and Human Rights
Commission to further enhance its staff training and procedures in order to further promote equality throughout its business.