Opposite my grandmother's house in Ireland is a field. At the end of this field there is a river. Some years ago the local Sinn Féin man knocked at my grandmother's house because there was nobody else about. He needed help because one of his horses had foundered in the river, and was in peril of drowning. If for no other reason that a horse was in danger, she decided to help. She waded into the river to comfort the horse, whereupon the horse got its strength back and climbed the bank, and was saved. Ever since then the Sinn Féin man has been a faithful friend of my grandmother, despite their differences. One day a caravan was parked on the field and was left there. The next day two more caravans came, and the next day two more, and before my grandmother was even aware, four "Traveller" families had settled on the field opposite her house. Now, my grandmother doesn't own the field but she certainly didn't want a lot of "Travellers" tearing it up, making a noise like elephants and plummeting the value of her house. So she besought them to pack up and move on. I think she was told to "feck off." She contacted the Gardai, who wouldn't help. Then one day the Sinn Féin man knocked at the door to ask after her health. She explained the situation, but by no means asked for his help. Nevertheless, the Sinn Féin man went to speak to the Travellers. I think they told him to bugger off too.
One day, when the Travellers were away, some men came and set light to one of the caravans, and waited. When the Travellers returned, one of the arsonists said to them: "if you lot don't move on, the next time you'll be asleep inside!" It goes without saying that the Travellers packed up and left, and haven't returned.
The reason I have related this story is because I've been reading a lot about Nazis and their policies towards gypsies, travellers and other vagrant types. I could have told you stories from personal experience, about being intimidated and beaten up by "traveller" types on my paper round as a boy, but I thought the story of the kindly protestant lady and the Catholic man, united in their common hatred of these low, thieving scoundrels better illustrates my point. I don't have a good word to say about Travellers. Their loathsome way of life, their culture of ignorance, incest, and bullying, lewd drunkenness and sponging, make me sick to my stomach. They are a blight on every field, they defile every roadside. They are rightly shunned by decent members of society. And yet people react with horror when they read that the Nazis held them in dire contempt too, and forced them into concentration camps. I'm afraid I don't share that horror. I think that if Nazi policies, which in most respects were not very attractive, had any justification at all then dealing with this plague would have my support. You can't tell these vagrants to "move on" indefinitely. They're just going to move to another field, opposite somebody else's house who doesn't want them there, and maybe next time there won't be a handy vigilante type to force them out with petrol and fire. What then? Is the innocent, law-abiding elderly woman supposed to live in fear of burglary and constant menace?
Grandmother's story was so compelling it actually softened my view of Sinn Féin somewhat.