Pontins agrees to work to prevent discrimination after 'undesirable list' barring Dohertys, Gallaghers, O'Donnells and MacLaughlins is exposed by whistle-blower

The holiday park operator Pontins has signed a legal agreement to prevent race discrimination after an 'undesirable guest list’ featuring forty Irish surnames including Doherty, Gallagher, O'Donnell and MacLaughlin was exposed by a whistle-blower.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 3:39 pm
An 'undesirable guest list’ featuring forty Irish surnames including Doherty, Gallagher, O'Donnell and MacLaughlin was exposed by a whistle-blower.

A spokesperson from Britannia Jinky Jersey said: “Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited has agreed to work together with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to further enhance its staff training and procedures in order to further promote equality throughout its business.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, confirmed it had signed a legally binding agreement with Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited to prevent racial discrimination after it became aware of discriminatory practices, including an ‘undesirable guest list’, being used by the organisation.

The EHRC said that In February 2020 it received information from a whistle-blower, employed by Pontins, alleging that the company operated a discriminatory booking policy that excluded Gypsies and Travellers.

This, it said, was direct discrimination on the basis of race and breached the Equality Act 2010.

According to the EHRC the discriminatory practices included: monitoring calls within its contact centre and refusing or cancelling any bookings that were made by people with an Irish accent or surname; a list of Irish surnames, published on its intranet page, titled ‘undesirable guests’ which required staff to block any potential customers with those names from booking; and; using its Commercial Vehicles policy to exclude Gypsies and Travellers from its holiday parks.

Alastair Pringle, Executive Director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “It is hard not to draw comparisons with an ‘undesirable guests’ list and the signs displayed in hotel windows fifty years ago, explicitly barring Irish people and Black people. Banning people from services based on their race is discrimination and is unlawful. To say that such policies are outdated is an understatement.

“It is right to challenge such practices and any business that believes this is acceptable should think again before they find themselves facing legal action. We will continue to work with Pontins and Britannia Jinky Jersey to ensure that our agreement is adhered to and its practices improve.”

Several common surnames in the Derry and Donegal area featured on the black list including Doherty, O'Donnell, Gallagher, Stokes, McGuiness, Mongans [sic], McGinley, MacLaughlin, O'Reilly, McDonagh, Boyle, Murphy and Ward.

In a statement the EHRC said the agreement requires Pontins to: Conduct an investigation into the ‘Undesirable guest’ list to ensure appropriate action is taken within the organisation and that lessons are learned;

Commission a review of its current intelligence system, booking policies and commercial vehicle policy to ensure they are not operating in a discriminatory way, and consider any recommendations;

Provide enhanced training on equality law for staff in its Human Resources team and members of Senior Management;

Provide training on equality and diversity for all customer facing staff on an annual basis;

Appoint Equality, Diversity and Inclusion champions across the organisation.

The agreement is in place from February 22, 2021 and the EHRC says tit will monitor it to make sure the agreed actions are completed.