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The Taxpayers Alliance has been attracting national headlines after criticising a Gypsy and Travellers Awareness Month in Sandwell’s schools – but if events in Northern Ireland are any guide, it will be money well spent.

More than 100 Romanian Roma have been terrorised into leaving their homes by stone throwing yobs during two nights of violence in Belfast.

While their gypsy and traveller counterparts in Britain (who are also often of Roma extraction) rarely suffer such outright persecution, they are routinely vilified, both in the street and by mainstream media.

Let’s be honest - there are undoubtedly some travelling communities containing undesirable elements. Y'know, the kind of people who sponge off the state, thieve for a living, and leave a mess behind when they move on. But so what? Mainstream society has plenty of people like this too.

The gypsies’ real crime is to be different, and in a civilised society that should be no crime at all.

Credit then to Sandwell for considering the appointment of a Gypsy Liaison Officer and proposing an education month from next year in the borough’s schools.

According to the Fiona McEvoy of the Taxpayers Alliance, 'It's not for local councils to manipulate the school curriculum based .on their latest politically correct whims, especially when educational standards are flagging”.

We beg to differ.

Prejudice is a learnt behaviour, and teachers have a responsibility to give the kids in their care as broad an education as possible. If that means challenging and confronting the lies they learn at their parents’ knee, so be it.

Schools are not merely processing plants for the exam boards – and hopefully never will be.

Sandwell’s determination to avoid a Black Country Belfast is worth every penny.



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