Saturday 29 April 2017

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Doherty perpetuates 'ethnic racism' myth

Reality star should use fame to urge community to take responsibility for itself, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

'When it comes to travellers," said Paddy Doherty, encouraging the public to support those about to be evicted from Dale Farm, "we're not even treated like second-class, never mind first-class, we're treated as nothing, honestly."

If this is what one gets from the winner of Celebrity Big Brother, there's little hope for any realism from travellers. While Doherty may have pulled in many votes from his community -- he's an attractive man and popular with his mostly English co-contestants and the British public -- did it never occur to him that he could use his fame to urge travellers to stop whinging and start treating their neighbours with more respect?

Before I get to the recent allegations that some travellers kept slaves, let's remind ourselves why English people resent and fear encampments like Basildon. They hate that hundreds of Irish people turn up unannounced in a peaceful place, treat planning laws with contempt, build eye-sores and strew rubbish around the place. (A friend told me the other day of a local farmer who had failed to persuade nearby travellers to stop dumping rubbish on his land; when a huge pile of asbestos was left at his gate and, because his land is private, he had to pay £1,000 (€1,140) to have it taken away.)

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