Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Anti-Irish abuse in Britain

An Irish woman claims to have suffered anti-Irish harassment at her job in Britain:

An Irish woman was told to leave Britain if she could not speak "the Queen's English" by a colleague in an emergency services control room in Berkshire, a tribunal heard today.

Ann Neylan, 39, who is originally from Kilcolgan, Co Galway, said she was told to "f*** off home" because of the way she spoke by a colleague at the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, a tribunal in Reading was told today.

Ms Neylan, who is claiming victimisation under the Race Discrimination Act, told the panel that a string of incidents left her feeling humiliated.

She told a tribunal that on two occasions, in 2002 and 2003, a woman working directly under her had referred to gypsies being her "relatives" when dealing with 999 calls to Traveller sites.

On another occasion, the tribunal heard, she found that her computer log-in name had been changed to "Irish Ann" and some time later she picked up her telephone headset to find the word "Paddyy", (with two ys), written on it.

The tribunal heard that the incidents reached a head in January 2003 when she made a suggestion to her temporary watch commander Liz Mitchell. In her statement to the tribunal she said: "She was annoyed that I had expressed my opinion. I could see she was angry and I said: 'Sure Liz, we won't fall out over it. I just thought it was a bit daft'."

Ms Neylan claims that another colleague, Lisa Bell, had mimicked her accent echoing "Daft, daft, daft" - prompting some discussion of her pronunciation. Ms Neylan claims that the watch commander, Ms Mitchell, then responded: "I suggest that if you don't start speaking the Queen's English, f*** off home."

Ms Neylan told the panel that she had complained to her line manager, David Wright but said that he had not taken it seriously.

Two months later, on March 13, 2003 - Comic Relief Day - she had entered the control room to find a white board with a list of "sins" written for which people would have to make a donation to the fund. Among misdemeanours, such as swearing and coming in without a tie was, she says, "being Irish".

With "friends" like the British who needs enemies?


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