Cwmni’r Frân Wen, a professional educational theatre company, has produced a new play about Johnny Delaney, who was murdered in 2003 on the outskirts of Ellesmere Port, when a gang of youths reacted towards his Irish accent and attacked him.
The theatre project, a Theatre in Education Project (with follow-up workshop and a cross-curricular work pack), targets 14 and 15-year-olds and will visit secondary schools in Gwynedd, Anglesey and Conwy in November. The play was written by Iola Ynyr, the Artistic Director for Cwmni’r Frân Wen, who told IRR News: ‘Our aim by touring this production is to raise awareness of prejudice towards the Travelling community as an ethnic minority group and to discuss racism in its wider sense. We also want to utilise this project to raise awareness as regards Johnny’s tragic story but also to highlight the feeling by the family that they were failed by the legal system following his death.’
Two 16-year-olds were sentenced to four and a half years for the manslaughter of 15-year-old Johnny Delaney, with the judge discounting it as a racially aggravated murder, despite witnesses hearing the accused calling Johnny a ‘Gypo’.
John Cole, the Co-ordinator for Liverpool Traveller Education Services, explains that the tragic death of young Johnny Delaney not only devastated his immediate family, but came as a blow to all Gypsy and Traveller families. ‘Had we learned nothing in the 10 years since the death of Stephen Lawrence?, they asked. For us, in the “settled” or non-Traveller community, it came as a shocking reminder of the extremes of prejudice and vulnerability experienced by Gypsy and Traveller children. By keeping the memory of Johnny alive, this play not only celebrates the loving family life of the Delaney family, it also serves to remind us of the dangers of prejudice and racism, and the terrible things it can lead to. It is therefore a useful tool to assist schools in their anti-bullying campaigns, reinforcing the message, that, indeed, EVERY child does matter, and the loss of one, is a loss for us all.’
Download a flyer for the Johnny Delaney play (pdf file, 297kb)