A list of Irish surnames used by a British holiday parks company to block “undesirable guests” has highlighted an increase in anti-Irish bigotry in everyday British life.
A whistleblower revealed how Pontins, which operates six holiday parks, had a list of 40 common surnames it used to ‘screen out’ bookings for its parks.
The Liverpool-based firm had placed the list on its intranet for staff to ensure bookings by certain people with an Irish accent or surname were stopped. The 2018 policy was linked to its exclusion of Gypsies and Travellers from its holiday parks.
A list of some 40 surnames was provided under the heading “Undesirable Guests - You Shall Not Pass”. These were: Boylan, Boyle, Carney, Carr, Cash, Connors, Corcoran, Delaney, Doherty, Dorran, Gallagher, Horan, Keefe, Kell, Leahy, Lee, MacLaughlin, McAlwick, McCully, McDonagh, McGinley, McGinn, McGuiness, McHarg, McLaughan, McMahon, Millighan, Mongans, Murphy, Nolan, O’Brien, O’Connell, O’Donnell, O’Donoghue, O’Mahoney, O’Reilly, Sheriadan, Stokes, Walch, Ward.
Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew described the revelation as “deeply concerning and quite frankly infuriating that in 2021, anti-Irish and anti-Traveller racism continues in Britain”.
“This blacklist harks back to a time when posters barring Irish people were displayed in bars, hotels and other public establishments across Britain,” she said.
“The Britannia Hotel Group, who own Pontins, must immediately ensure that those responsible for composing this blacklist are held fully accountable and that all forms of discrimination are eradicated from its business practices.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called on the British government to “get tougher on anti-Irish and anti-Traveller abuse”.
He made reference to recent revelations of abuse directed against Irish soccer players in England, such as those exposed recently by international squad members James McClean and Shane Duffy.
The Derry MP said: “The growing anti-Irish sentiment that has come to light over the last number of weeks and months in Britain is chilling and deeply worrying for the Irish community living here.”
Alastair Pringle, a director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, added: “It is hard not to draw comparisons with an ‘undesirable guests’ list and the signs displayed in hotel windows 50 years ago, explicitly barring Irish people and black people.”