Richard North, 10/08/2012  

Roma 992-mdu.jpg

Picking up on the recent Greek action against mass immigration, the Wail today is excitedly drawing parallels with current action in France against Roma encampments.

The two actions, though, are very different. As a more considered report in Deutsche Welle points out, the French specifically targeting the Roma who have set up long-term caravan encampments in defiance of local laws, causing considerable friction with local communities.

The raids are part of the ongoing war against the Roma, but are the first since Francois Hollande took office in May. They took place in Lille, with police descending on the camps in the early morning hours of yesterday, clearing one camp of around 150 people and another of 50.

"The tensions with (local residents) had become untenable," said Maryvonne Girard, deputy mayor of the town of Villeneuve d'Ascq, near where one of the camps had been located.

This is more comparable with the Italian action in 2007 and again in 2008, the latter in Naples where Gypsy shanty towns were burned to the ground as Italian police swooped on Roma encampments.

But what makes the French action really interesting is the contrast with the attitude of the British authorities. Readers may recall a recent report about an illegal gypsy camp in Meriden, Solihull. It told us that, when local residents established a camp, to maintain a 24-hour vigil in protest at the gypsy encampment, the local council threatened action against the residents rather than the gypsies.

And the source of this report – you guessed it – is the Daily Wail. Perhaps it should be making this comparison, between the robust French and our pusillanimous, vindictive authorities, rather than looking to Greece. 

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