Irish Traveller to stage protest over new UK anti-trespass law at Glastonbury
Martin Ward says new trespass law will “criminalise the Traveller way of life”
An Irish Traveller in the UK will join a protest at Glastonbury Festival over a new trespass law that he says will “criminalise the Traveller way of life.”
Martin Ward, from Northfleet in Kent, will join other members of the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities at the music festival between June 22 and June 26 to oppose the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.
Under UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s legislation, thousands of people from Traveller communities living in Kent could face penalties for parking their caravans on roadsides and “unauthorised camps” overnight if they cause “significant harm, disruption or distress.”
They can be fined up to £2,500 with police doling out jail sentences of three months for non-compliance after the Act comes into force later this month.
And while the Home Office denies that the Act will criminalise nomadic traditions, Mr Ward said that the law is “pure entrapment” and will negatively impact the Traveller community by “forcing” them into houses.
The 30-year-old said: “It is a hard one to swallow. I never thought it would be a law come in.
“We are not doing anything wrong we are just being who we are. This is pure entrapment. They are chasing us off all the land in Kent.”
Martin said that he fears that Travellers will be constantly moved on from their dwellings, jeopardising their mental health.
"My family is ringing me all the time crying saying what are we to do if we have nowhere to go," he told KentOnline.
"I think it needs to stop and it needs to be turned back over quicker than it was laid out.
"We need a Prime Minister that treats us as human beings," he continued.
"This is our country, this is our home. I'm an English citizen. They are trying to force us into houses which we can't live in, it will feel like prison.
"We are not changing for anyone. I wish I could stand in front of Priti Patel and give her a piece of my mind."
Measures under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 are set to be enforced from June 28.
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