Romanian Gypsy families determined to leave Ulster

Roma families determined to leave Northern Ireland

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Roma families that have been forced from their homes as a result of racist attacks in Belfast have their minds set to leave Northern Ireland. This despite the political and public sympathy and support that has been shown to them after the events.

Two teenage boys have appeared in court on Monday, June 22. 2009, charged in connection with the attacks which resulted in 115 Romanians Gypsies seeking refuge in a city centre Belfast church last Tuesday night.

A 15-year-old and a 16-year-old are each being charged with provocative conduct while the 15-year-old is also charged with intimidation.

The outcome of this, probably, will be nothing but a dressing down by a judge and then sending them home.

Notwithstanding the arrests and an anti-racism rally in Belfast on behalf of the 22 families, all of whom are members of the Roma community, they are still anxious to return to Romania.

They say that they have no jobs, no homes, no money and feel they may as well go home. Some, apparently, have said that it is better for them in Romani than in Britain.

There was still a lot of confusion over whether there was any statutory provision that would allow money to be provided to repatriate the families. Last week Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said if money were required it would be found.

However, it is understood there is official concern about what precedents might be created if public money was provided to pay for the flights. Belfast City Council said that it is checking if they can find the money. If not it may be a matter for the churches or the voluntary organisations to get them home.

Temporary accommodation was found for the families by Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie, although that is due to end on Wednesday. The Minister has indicated that they can stay longer if that is necessary.

Church representatives, trade unionists, politicians, members of Amnesty International and the Traveller community were among those who attended the rally in support of the families.

Barbara Muldoon of the Anti-Racism Network said that if any of the families wanted to stay the local community must stand shoulder to shoulder with them. There must also be a concerted effort to stop the racist attacks.

“There are no excuses, and no arguments that can justify what happened,” said Ms Muldoon.

“Immigrants are welcome here, they bring a wealth of culture to Northern Ireland and they bring their ability to contribute to our society. They are not separate from it but part of it,” she added.

While the spokesperson of the Anti-Racism Network may have state that immigrants are welcome in Northern Ireland it always becomes a different matter in the eyes of the great majority when those immigrant happen to be member of the Gypsy Nation.

While this has happened in an area that was always a trouble spot as far as outsiders are concerned one can but wonder how long before things like that will happen all over Britain (and elsewhere in the EU) as far as Gypsy People are concerned, and how long before it will move from the foreign ones to include also the “indigenous” ones.

All one can say that this is a shame as far as the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union is concerned.

In addition to this it is actually fact that by the time of writing on June 23, 2009, many of the Romanian Gypsies have already gone back to Romani, others are about to follow. Only fourteen of them intend to, probably, remain in Northern Ireland.

If they feel safer in Romania where there itself are lots of problems then it shows how bad it is getting in Britain.

Also, on the night from June 22 to June 23, 2009 the Church that gave refuge to those Romanian Gypsies has been attacked and a number of windows smashed and the dook kicked in.

This also means that the juveniles that have been charged with the attacks on the Romanian Gypsies the other day have not been acting alone and it may be proof that groups such as Combat 18 are involved and even thugs of the British National Party.

© 2009