Gypsy, Roma and Traveller organisations condemn Diane Abbott letter

28 April 2023
Appleby Town during Appleby Horse Fair 2022

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller civil society response to Diane Abbott’s letter in The Observer dated 23 April 2023

As organisations fighting tooth and nail to tackle the daily racism, discrimination, prejudice and structural barriers experienced by Irish Traveller, Romany Gypsy and Roma people, we condemn Diane Abbott’s letter in The Observer.

Irish Traveller, Romany Gypsy and Roma people continue to experience vile hate underpinned by racial supremacist beliefs.

Romany and Irish Traveller people have a life expectancy of 10-25 years less than the general population, experience staunch exclusion across all aspects of society, which decimate life chances, and make up a disproportionate amount of people in the Criminal Justice System.

Irish Travellers continue to be denied access from pubs, GP surgeries and holiday parks just for ‘having an accent’ or an ‘undesirable’ surname.

Romany communities were enslaved and manacled towards lands far from home, in the pursuit for power and capital for slaveowners.

500,000 Roma and Sinti people were viciously slaughtered in the Holocaust, alongside entire Jewish communities.

These experiences are a direct result of racist and discriminatory structures that continue to be deeply embedded throughout society. Race and ethnicity are historical, current, complex and intersectional.

It’s important however, that we do not discount the impact of discrimination based on skin colour. It is real and it impacts real lives.

Racism takes many forms, and no one’s experience must be treated as less than. If everyone takes the time to look past the misinformation, then they’d see that there’s more that unites us than divides us.

We do not believe that the fight against racism is a zero-sum game.

We must resist anyone trying to sow division amongst our communities, and instead focus on bringing together everyone who suffers at the hands of racism to break down these barriers.

We extend our unwavering solidarity with Jewish communities, and to anyone whose experiences of racism have shaped who they are.

We welcome the Labour Party’s swift response and the support shown across the political spectrum and call on all parties to review and strengthen their anti-racism policies.


By Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Organisations

Friends, Families and Travellers

York Travellers Trust

GATE Herts

Gypsies Travellers Wales

Irish Community Care

Luton Roma Trust


Traveller Space

Moving for Change

Rev’d Canon Jonathan Herbert, Diocese of Salisbury

Rev’d Nicky Chater, Gypsy, Roma, Traveller Friendly Churches

Kushti Bok


(Lead picture: Appleby Town during Appleby Fair 2022 © Bela Varadi)