We’re a peculiar bunch us Irish. At times we’re quite an insular breed, happy to dwell self-satisfied on our own wee patch of planetary turf, under the impression the world loves us. Sure what have we got to worry about in the grand scale of current, geopolitical upheaval and disruption? And yet, our diaspora spans the globe, again wallowing under the illusion that we’re somewhat special among the rest of the evolved ape world.
In fairness, on the global scale of evil deeds, we barely even register, apart from the benign maleficence of our boy-bands and Chris De Burgh. Yes we’ve performed some magnificently progressive acts over the last few years where Women’s and Gay rights are concerned but there’s a danger these wonderful deeds have inoculated us against other societal diseases which are infecting other countries at present.
We are not immune. Our country, still an infant in democratic terms, is increasingly schizophrenic: a conflicted maelstrom of progression, poverty, corruption, success and corporate obsequiousness. We’re part economic miracle and part humanitarian carbuncle. We can proudly haul ourselves out of the financial abyss that was 2008 and, at the same time, unfathomably forget or forgive the reasons why we were chucked down there in the first place.
I think we sometimes view ourselves, wrongly, that we’re ultimately a simple people. Not simple as in “duh I like tractors hey” more in a “what you see is what you get” or “sure it’ll be grand” manner of speaking. In truth, we’re as complex as algebra and as enigmatic as the 1980’s version of Morrissey. We’ll curse the gombeens who drag us unwillingly into a septic tank and yet vote for them to do the same again within the timeframe of a still raw memory.
We’ll send our young to pick vegetables under the vicious Australian sun only to put the young of other nations, willing to do similar work in our potato fields, in mouldy portakabins in the back arse of beyond. We’ll send a single mother to prison for non-payment of a licence fee but allow a banker to wander freely around Portmarnock links after conning billions from the nation’s coffers.
However, this is not another half-baked, conspiracy-laden diatribe at our government, whatever faults or positive attributes it may have. Truthfully we get the government we deserve and the parochial back-slapping of the past 100 years means we have this one currently. What this missive is about is focus and the need to concentrate our attentions to the menace of the “Irish for the Irish” mentality that is gaining traction among the disaffected in our society.
Our tourist board understandably promotes Ireland as the “land of a thousand welcomes”. For the most part this adage rings true. Our “howayas” and “ah jaysis” mindset, coupled with our rugged scenery, draws the predominantly white, tourist bandwagon to our rain-enhanced, green shores. Hell we’ll even let these predominantly white people reside here with a minimum of bureaucratic fuss. Sure it’s all money for the taxman in the long term.
Yeah, I think you’ve gathered where I’m going with this so I’ll dispense with attempting to cram as many metaphors into a paragraph as I can in order to highlight the obvious. Are we naturally just suspicious of economic migrants from other less-well off nations or is it an over-arching selfishness to protect what we feel we’ve earned after years of colonial oppression from them-uns across the water? I struggle myself to determine what it is that keeps us from being a truly welcoming, open-armed nation.
Unfortunately this void in our self-consciousness is being filled by a small but growing number of grifters and shysters, determined to plough and plant the algae-green fields of hate. As we continue to reap what we have sown in our previous electoral choices, the gap between the wealthy and the alarming number of people under the poverty line continues to grow. Unfortunately, where such a scenario exists, chancers like Redcoat Cruft, Gammy O’Dubious and Lionel Sanchez Brennan of TheLiberal will point their fingers at asylum seekers and say they are the reason why people are poor or why 10,000 homeless exist in our society.
Their words and actions are responsible for the increasing numbers of attacks on immigrants as well as instances of arson on planned Direct Provision centres in our country. Through the mass creation of sock-puppet and fake social media accounts, they push the narrative that their number is growing and they are the true voice of the people. Subconsciously, the vulnerable begin to believe in the false legitimacy of these individuals and groups and so a radicalised generation is born. Ireland is in the early stages of experiencing a vocal and violent right-wing faction within our civil and political discourse but it is developing stronger and faster than anticipated.
Like I mentioned previously, our politicians are far from perfect. Their greed during the Celtic Tiger and their indifference now to growing economic equality has created the vacuum where the bigots and racists thrive. However, there are 3 things which I believe they can do to alleviate the rise of the right-wing in Ireland as well as improve the lives of everyone marginalised on this island.
Firstly, they need to embark on a radical plan to construct social housing. Sounds simple doesn’t it and I’ll agree that it is much more nuanced than that. However, we have ghost estates which should be prioritised to bring up to liveable standard. We’re owed billions in taxes by the Silicon Valley behemoths – this should be prioritised towards housing. Homelessness is the major stick with which immigrants and minorities are being beaten by the YellowGeansais, Anti-Corruption Ireland and Renua etc. A visibly aggressive policy of house-building, away from the cloying hands of the corporate landlords will go a long way to removing this perceived stigma.
Secondly, Direct Provision must end. This is the real shame of modern day Ireland. Through the proper integration of asylum seekers and immigrants, the “doubters” in certain circles of our society will be able to see and experience the positive benefits that will result. Livelier communities in rural areas, increased business, greater tax revenues and most importantly, understanding. As long as someone remains “locked up” in accommodation barely better than a concentration camp, these unfortunate people will remain “suspicious” to those are swayed by “the others” rhetoric of Gammy O’Dubious and her willing cohorts. Let’s take away their matches.
Finally, in light of recent revelations that Enda Kenny was a “great friend” of Facebook etc, our Government should lobby persistently for greater moderation and monitoring of their platforms for hate speech and incitement to violence. We’ll give you your beneficial tax rates ( obviously better than flippin’ zero of course) but now invest in properly managing your services. The way things are going, based on historical evidence of rising fascism, they may end up with an otherwise pre-occupied customer base if they don’t take appropriate action now.
Flights of fancy? Wishful thinking? Stating the bloody obvious? Probably. But the sooner we rouse from our slumber and realise this threat is real, the better equipped we’ll be to deal with any unexpected event or tragedy that will (yes will) result from the crazed rhetoric emanating from the fringes of our society.
We’ve come a long way since we started to cast off the shackles of the Catholic Church. Let’s not be dragged back into the dark ages by a bunch of conmen and a woman determined to make as much money as they can by emulating the racism of Trump and Tommy Yaxley-Robinson. We’re way better than that. We know it, they certainly know it but are relying on us shrugging our shoulders and staying silent.
Let’s weed the garden before the flowers are overwhelmed.