Dale Farm - Commentary

Commentary

The Peace and Progress Party has advocated on behalf of the Travellers at Dale Farm. The party called a meeting at Parliament in June 2006, following which actor and activist Corin Redgrave collapsed at a council meeting at Basildon Town Hall.

In their Annual Report and Accounts for 2006/7. the former Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) said:

In 2005, we reported that we had obtained leave to intervene in a judicial review case involving a decision by a local authority to evict a large group of Irish Travellers from an unauthorised encampment on the Dale Farm site in Basildon in 2005. We argued that the council had failed to pay due regard to its requirements under the race equality duty to promote race equality and good race relations when taking the decision to evict. This case was postponed until 2007, due to outstanding planning appeals.

And later, as the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD):

The UK has been the object of an enquiry from CERD under the early warning and urgent action procedure. During its 76th session in February 2010, CERD considered the impending eviction of an Irish and Romani Traveller community from Dale Farm in Essex. The committee expressed concern that the planned eviction of the Traveller community from Dale Farm might imply a breach of Article 5 e (iii), guaranteeing the right to housing.

The media varied in their reporting. According to the Daily Mail newspaper website for 19 September 2011:

Hundreds of anarchists turned Europe's largest illegal traveller site into a fortress today to defy bailiffs in what they say will be the 'Battle of Basildon'. Menacing activists, wearing scarves over their faces, launched 'Operation Lockdown' to stop the authorities from bulldozing Dale Farm for a planned eviction this morning.

BBC correspondent Fergal Keane, who was inside the illegal part of the site, said:

"There is now about an equal split between travellers and supporters. The travellers are certainly grateful for the support of the activists. They are expecting the bailiffs at any time and they are unlikely to come through the front entrance. Wherever they enter the site they are likely to be met by peaceful resistance."

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