The Gipsy myth

For many years now, the issue of Gipsies and ‘Travellers’ has made the headlines here, for various reasons. Although true Romani people are now small in number in this community in the UK, the Travellers as a whole are now well-organised, well-represented, and enjoy the sympathy of many Anarchist and Socialist organisations, who regard them as a victimised ethnic group. It is not considered politically correct to speak out against these people, and the authorities generally approach any contact with them wearing kid gloves, and make sweeping allowances for their behaviour. Perhaps it is time to look deeper into what is really happening, in this so-called community.

The Romani people are widely believed to have originated in Northern India. They travelled into Europe, settling in most of the Balkan countries, as well as many others. Some even theorise that they followed the army of Alexander the Great, when they returned after his death. From then, until around the time of the First World War, they would be noted for their use of horse-drawn caravans, and their work at carnivals, as well as horse-trading, and crop-picking. Their history was one of persecution. From the middle ages, until the nineteenth century, they were distrusted, attacked, expelled, and even executed. During the Second World War, the Nazis, and their allies in some East European countries, actively exterminated ethnic Roma, often in concentration camps.

Fast forward to the UK in modern times, and it is not these people that we know. Those called ‘Travellers’ these days, are predominantly Irish itinerants. Unpopular in their own country, they have arrived here (as well as many other places) and been able to take advantage of an easier reception, and different attitudes towards them. Many Councils have provided permanent sites for them to place their caravans on, and in some cases, even build permanent structures. Our laws on trespass and squatting are more complex than elsewhere, so it is all but impossible to remove them from communally-owned land, and in many cases, privately owned places as well. Attempts to move them on are often met with violence, and the involvement of outside groups, looking to adhere themselves to any anti-establishment cause. The Travellers have even managed to have themselves declared as a separate ethnic entity, giving them the same rights and freedoms afforded to many religious and racial groups. This is just nonsense, and I for one, am not afraid to say so.

The main reason that so many moved from Ireland, is that they are not welcome there. Justifiably accused of crimes such as scrap metal theft, tax evasion, fraud, and petty crimes of all sorts, it is much easier for them to exist comparatively unmolested in mainland Britain. So much is written about their ‘heritage’ and their rights as individuals, that it is worth examining the reality of their freedom to carry on as they do. Ask anyone who lives anywhere near them, about the rubbish piled on the sites that they occupy, and left behind when they move on. The animals left tied up in fields, often abandoned later, and the poor literacy, and lower health standards of their children. What do they contribute to the society that they choose to live in? Very little. They are on record as paying little or no income tax, or national insurance, yet receive full health benefits, education when they seek it, and many other services provided by councils all over the UK.

As for their much-lauded ‘culture’, this is non-existent. Unless by culture, we mean drinking, petty crime, fraud, and evasion of taxes. They are pure and simply Irish people who choose to live a life that does nothing to add to, or enrich modern society; though they are happy to use all the facilities, laws, and support structures that same society provides. Is it any wonder that the communities that they decide to invade feel aggrieved and distressed at the prospect of having them as neighbours? They do not integrate, ignore local regulations, and many laws, and seem to be set on a path of confrontation at all levels. Look at their sites, and you will see rows of very expensive vehicles parked next to their caravans. If they have legally earned the money to pay for these, why does the Inland Revenue not demand tax payments from them? Unlike the rest of us, their movements and activities are not traceable in the same way; their identities cannot always be confirmed, so in most cases, they can do as they please.

This is a life spent outside of society, except when society is providing something that they want, and can get. In addition to this, they aggressively target the vulnerable and elderly, with numerous scams. Roof repairs, tarmac drives, scrap metal, and many other services, do not escape their criminal involvement. These are not the colourful, fortune-telling Gipsies of legend, and old films; far from it. They are organised criminals, involved in illegal gambling, banned sports, theft of metals, and the conning of hard-working residents. Yet still, we tolerate them, pander to them, afraid to be seen as unsympathetic, or to be held as politically incorrect.

It is time to stop all that, and to start making them accountable for their actions. They can either be part of society, or no longer welcome in it.

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