Sunday, April 13, 2008

Irish Boxer Faces Discrimination

Irish Bantamweight champion and Olympic hopeful John Joe Nevin (18), who is from a Traveller background, says he "is deeply hurt" by the treatment he and his family and friends have received after becoming the second Irish boxer to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

After Nevin's qualification last month his family and friends decided to hold a "Welcome home" celebration party for him in Cavan where he is based.

However, despite repeated phone calls to hotels pubs and restaurants in the area, not one would take the booking telling the family that they were "overbooked" or "we don't do parties", Nevin said yesterday.

"It makes me feel sad and that I am different than anybody else which I am not" he told local radio station Northern Sound yesterday.

Nevin told of his delight at how he was received in the country when he returned after winning his qualification final.

"It was a huge welcome . . . but then my family tried to book a hotel for a welcome home party and not one hotel in Cavan or Mullingar would take the booking because I come from a Travelling background. (For those not familiar with the term, an Irish Traveller is a Gypsy).

"I am a settled Traveller now but I am still proud to be a Traveller, I was paraded through Cavan but when it came to booking in a hotel for a party they won't give it to us."

"We intended to invite the mayor of Cavan and other local representatives to the function because the council and the people in Cavan are great to me and the council are trying to sort out a grant for me."

"Will it make any difference if I come back with a gold medal from the Olympics?"
Martin Morgan, a spokesman for the Traveller community in Co Roscommon claims Nevin is "being denied his human rights, he and his family are not allowed to enter these premises because they are Travellers.

"The right to enter is guaranteed under the Irish Constitution and we are not being treated as Irish citizens. It was the same when the Galway boxer Francie Barrett came back from the Olympics because he was a Traveller he and his wife were refused in bars and restaurants in Galway."

Mr Mongan added if John Joe Nevin comes home with a gold medal "they will be praising him with one hand and turning their backs with the other".

Nevin's coach Brian McKeown, who is a town councillor in Cavan and who has coached and managed Ulster and Irish boxing teams, has also criticised the treatment the Olympian and his family have received.

He said: "The people in Ireland who are protesting about China and Tibet about human rights and abuse should maybe look closer to home and see the way John Joe and his family are being treated."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

if the they didn't smash up every pub they go into i'm sure they'd be welcome.