For release 05:00PM EST
The Ancient Order of Hibernians Calls on Mayor Tom Bates and the City of Berkeley to Actively Investigate and Prosecute Rental Discrimination Targeting Irish Students
New City, New York – 6/1/2016 – The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) calls on City of Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates to investigate charges of discrimination by landlords of his city against Irish students solely on the basis of their ethnicity and prosecute where found to exist to the full extent of the fair housing law. The AOH further calls on Mayor Bates and the city of Berkeley to issue a clear, unambiguous statement condemning this prejudice targeting people of Irish ethnicity.
Per AOH National Anti-Defamation Chairman Neil Cosgrove:
“We are deeply troubled by multiple reports of rental discrimination in Berkeley, California targeting Irish students. We find it inconceivable that in 21st century America landlords are still permitted to engage in the discriminatory nativist practices of the 19th targeting people of Irish ethnicity. That Irish Students traveling to America to work, broaden their experience and reinforce the close historical ties that exist between our two nations should encounter the modern form of “No Irish Need Apply” signs is simply unacceptable and an embarrassment to all Americans. That this despicable practice is occurring in a city named after Bishop George Berkeley of County Kilkenny is an irony beyond the imaginings of Jonathan Swift.
Compounding this reprehensible behavior, it is reported that the landlords in question attempt to justify their despicable actions by perversely citing the tragic deaths last year of six Irish students when a balcony collapsed in Berkeley. One callous landlord had the temerity when denying a rental application to an Irish student to advise that “she should stay away from balconies”. Extensive investigation has shown that the death of those innocent victims was caused by shoddy construction, poor maintenance and lax building inspection practices; that nothing the victims did, nor the fact that they were Irish, contributed to the disaster that caused their deaths. To attempt to justify bigotry against their fellow Irish students by the exploitation of their tragic deaths is a further slander against their good names and utterly contemptible.
The Hibernians ask the simple question of Mayor Bates and his administration: would such blatant profiling be tolerated in Berkeley if the students were from the Middle East? Would these discriminatory renting practices be allowed to continue if the student were from Africa, Asia or South America? We would sincerely hope not. Why then are they acceptable in Berkeley when they target students from Ireland? We note that Mayor Bates has in interviews stated he is aware of the disturbing charges of discrimination in his city and stated ’It’s something that I definitely need to look into’. We are disappointed in Mayor Bates passive, noncommittal response which are not appropriate to the seriousness of the matter; the intolerable, corrosive nature of bigotry should precipitate a more active reaction and be a priority irrespective of who is targeted”
There is no room in the America of the 21st century for bigotry no matter who the target is.