Pontins ordered to stop discriminating against Irish Travellers

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Staff were given a list of common Irish surnames labelled as ‘undesirable guests’ and instructed to decline or cancel bookings.

Holiday park operator Pontins has apologised after being issued a legal notice for "shocking" discrimination towards Irish Travellers. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found Pontins had created a list of common Irish surnames labelled as "undesirable guests" Pontins, owned by Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited, labelled Irish Travellers and their associates as ‘undesirables’ and maintained a ‘banned guest’ list of people the company suspected of either being or being associated with Irish Travellers. Pontins said the call centre where the incidents took place had now closed.

Some of the names that appeared on the list of undesirable guests were Boyle, Keefe, Gallagher, O'Donnell, McGuiness, Murphy, and O'Reilly.

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The EHRC also found there was a "banned list" containing the names of people thought to be Irish Travellers, as well as their associates.

The EHRC said Pontins also brought in rules requiring guests to appear on the electoral register, which the commission said was discriminatory against Gypsies and Travellers, as they were less likely to be on the register.

Chris McDonagh, a representative of Friends, Families and Travellers - a charity that works to end discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people - said the Pontins blacklist "did not come as a surprise".

He said: "It is deeply saddening that Irish Traveller people have become so used to hate and prejudice.

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Staff were told to decline or cancel bookings made under those names or by people with Irish accents.Staff were told to decline or cancel bookings made under those names or by people with Irish accents.
Staff were told to decline or cancel bookings made under those names or by people with Irish accents. | UGC

"Whilst we are certain that Pontins are not the only ones operating such discriminatory policies, we welcome the EHRC's investigation and commend the whistleblower's principled stance.

"Everyone deserves to live free from hate and prejudice."

The practices were originally revealed by a whistleblower, who shared the list of ‘undesirable guests’ with the EHRC in 2020. This led to the equality watchdog entering into a legally binding agreement with Pontins in 2021, to end the practices and prevent further discrimination. It issued the tour operator with an "unlawful act notice" - meaning Pontins now has until 9 April to produce an action plan about how it will address its concerns. The company could face criminal penalties if it fails to comply.

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