‘Irish Traveller discrimination’: Essex Road dad claims some Islington pubs won’t serve him

A file image of Essex Road. Picture: Polly Hancock

A file image of Essex Road. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A member of the Irish Traveller community living in Essex Road claims he’s routinely discriminated and denied service in pubs across the borough.

A file image of Essex Road. Picture: Polly Hancock

A file image of Essex Road. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Danny McCarthy, 27, who works for a drainage company, is speaking out about the racial discrimination he experiences to raise awareness and challenge people's prejudices.

Most recently, Danny claims he was refused a drink at a pub in the Caledonian Road after the bar worker "stared at him"and eventually claimed the venue was members-only. After being contacted by the Gazette, the publican said she would investigate, and we were eventually told there was a special event on that day to which "non-locals and regulars" were not allowed. Danny disputes this.

"I walked in and I really didn't say a word to her," Danny told the Gazette. "She was just staring at me, and then I asked for a pint of Strongbow and she said: 'This is a members' only pub'. I just walked straight out. I know for a fact it's not a members' only pub and I felt discriminated against.

"I wasn't causing any trouble whatsoever. I went in because a friend of mine was passing away in hospital and I wanted a pint before going to see him."

Asked how he knew the bartender was discriminating against him because of his background, Danny said he believed she had made a judgement based on his appearance.

He said: "She kept staring and staring and then said it was a members' only pub. It has happened to me and my wife and kids before [at different pubs in the borough]. They look at us like we're riffraff."

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He added: "It's happened to me a few times now. We are not troublemakers. We don't bully anyone. We just work and pay our council taxes and treat everybody the same."

"The staff do have the right on my behalf to refuse entry for whatever reason," the publican told us. She pledged to investigate.

This paper approached her again two weeks later, when she said: "We did have an event that day and therefore refused entry for non-locals or regulars. I don't really want to discuss it. The fact that he's gone straight to you - I'm not happy about that.

"We did have an event. We don't always publicise [events] on weekdays because we are not always that busy."

She said she couldn't remember what the event was and "wouldn't be able to tell" the Gazette even if she did.

Asked what she meant by "non-locals", Ms Doyle said: "Sorry, we call them 'locals' because they're regulars but, obviously, the correct term is 'regulars'."

Yvonne MacNamara, the chief exec of national charity the Traveller Movement, told the Gazette: "While this behaviour is very upsetting for the individual involved, unfortunately it is not uncommon. Gypsies, Roma and Irish Travellers continue to suffer extreme levels of prejudice and discrimination in their everyday lives. "

"As an organisation that works directly with members of the Gypsy and Traveller communities we frequently challenge pubs and services that refuse entry to community members.

"In 2011 the Traveller Movement successfully brought a case for racial discrimination against JD Wetherspoon for refusing conference delegates entry the Coronet pub following our annual conference.

"Gypsies and Irish Travellers have a protected characteristic of race by reason of their ethnic origin and, under sections 13 and 29 of the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a person because of their race.

"We would remind publicans and other service providers that refusing to provide services to someone on the grounds of their ethnicity is unlawful."

Cllr Sue Lukes, Islington's migrant champion, told the Gazette: "We know that discrimination takes place against all sorts of migrants in all sorts of situations - when they ask for services and are refused, or asked for inappropriate documentation, or asked for more proof then other people would be asked for in the same circumstances.

"There is lots of discrimination taking place in public and in private.

"There are legal mechanisms, but unfortunately over the past decade those have been completely torn apart by austerity."

Are you a member of the Irish Traveller community who has experienced discrimination in Islington? Tell us your views by emailing gazette.letters@archant.co.uk - they could be printed on our letters page.

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