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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 00:04 GMT 01:04 UK
Gypsy coalition calls for reform
The group says the harassment of travellers has increased
A "national shortage" of sites for travellers and their families will be discussed when Gypsy activists meet for their annual conference.

The Gypsy and Traveller Law Reform Coalition will also focus on how "negative media reporting" has increased community tension.

It wants to see more sites and a "reformed" press code of practice.

Coalition spokesman Len Smith said "now more than ever" travellers needed to speak out on these issues.

Youth and women's issues will also be on the agenda at Friday's meeting.

'Race card'

Mr Smith said he wanted more Gypsies activists and those who have had the benefit of education to become involved in lobbying.

"We can show the rest of society the great contribution that Gypsies and travellers are capable of making, want to make, and are already doing," he said.

He added that most travellers and Gypsies "lived in harmony with the settled community".

Fellow coalition member Andrew Ryder said there had been "an increase in cases of harassment" of travellers in recent months.

"The finger of blame clearly points at sections of the media and some politicians playing the 'race card'," he said.

He added that this had led to "anxiety and real fear".


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