December 23, 2007

We must begin the culture debate

Posted in Ireland · 99 comments ·
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Ireland has to recognise that immigration is eventually going to clash with a slowing economy.

The population figures released this week reveal what many of us have known for some time – immigration is driving practically everything in our society.

This poses a serious challenge for us, which demands that we leave the relatively safe ground of economics and delve into the thorny, contentious but critical issue of culture. The question is what type of Ireland are we creating? Have we put much thought into it? And, if not, why not?

Our population has been rising now for some time. It has been apparent for at least five years to anyone who chose to open their eyes that the Pope’s children – those adults born in the 1970s population boom in Ireland – were settling down. They were filling up Ireland’s baby belt – mainly the counties around Dublin.

In the past two censuses, Kildare and Meath have been the fastest growing counties in the country. The new commuter estates – the ones now in negative equity – have become a nightly cacophony of wailing babies, ticking monitors and snarling, knackered parents.

But these places – like all suburbs – will become in time, the creative hub of a New Ireland, so they are well worth watching. This is the generation that is pitched into a new generation game with the new wild card in the Irish pack: immigrants.

The opening salvoes of this struggle are only now being heard but, if the economy keeps faltering, we could be entering a whole new era, as Irish workers and foreigners compete for fewer jobs. In fact, if economic history is anything to go by, this struggle is almost guaranteed.

If the new suburbs around Naas, Navan and Ballincollig give us a glimpse of the face of the new generation of indigenous Irish, the place to see the immigrants is Dublin Airport. This is their first port of call and, if you want to see the people behind the demographic figures, drive up theM1, grab a coffee at Starbucks in the terminal and open your eyes.

Around sunset is the best time. The airport changes from Irish to foreign and this side of modern Ireland reveals itself. In the arrivals hall, they are beginning to congregate. It looks like a scene from Gorky Park. Slavs of all sorts assemble to meet friends, and then disappear to the remotest parts of the country in a Vilnius registered Audi Quattro – the favoured car of Lithuanians. It was declared extinct here in 1996, only to reappear last year.

Some time in the evening, the arrivals section turns into a holding pen for east Europeans. You notice the crew cuts and fake Ducati biker jackets in various garish shades of orange and yellow, with misspelled motor oil ads emblazoned across the back.

They look like bouncers, big bullet heads on them, broad shoulders and Soviet special forces handshakes. Revealing that our culture is rubbing off on someone, they’ve a disturbing fondness for sovereign rings and Champion Sports.

The girls are mostly Slavic-pretty, long-limbed with high cheekbones, sallow skin and green eyes. They are the closest thing to supermodels that Mulhuddart has ever seen. Behold the nextTV3 weathergirl.

It’s amazing how the lads all look so downbeat and the girls could have stepped out of the pages of Italian Vogue. There is a disturbing amount of stonewashed denim and a few trademark Slovakian mullet and moustache combinations. Meet our future.

More phenomenal is the number of immigrants coming through the place. In 2005,143,000 Poles passed through here. Last year, that figure jumped to 580,000.

Passengers from the Baltics increased from 147,000 to 340,000 in 2006. Just consider the following statistic: in 2003, there were no direct air links between Poland and Ireland. Since then, just over one million passengers have travelled on one or more of the ten destinations served now between Dublin and various parts of Poland.

To get a handle on this, I camped out in the airport a few months ago and witnessed the following scene. The stewardess announces the incoming Brussels flight. The passengers queue up with the confidence of western Europeans which, counter-intuitively, means looking at your shoes, slightly guiltily.

One young woman is different. She constantly changes queues at the faintest sign of a hold-up. She is well dressed. Her papers are in order. Something is not quite right. Her palms are sweating. She looks like the Frenchwoman in the photo: everything matches.

The officer checks again. She’s wearing a long dress. He asks her to inch closer. ‘‘Please turn around, miss.’’ He asks her to stand against the life-size ruler. She’s the right height, but quite tall for a west African at five foot eight.

She looks around nervously and tries to regain her composure by flicking her hair and examining her impressively varnished nails. She plays with her earrings. She’s trying to flirt without making eye-contact.

Underneath her long skirt is a pair of customised nine-inch heels. The poor girl is practically crippled. She bursts into tears. She is Congolese,14 years old, in a strange country. She is a fraction of the size of the person she is supposed to be. She’s about five foot and she stands there sobbing, frightened and alone.

The woman, who, three minutes ago, was checking her nail varnish, is now a distraught child. The middle-aged gardai see their own daughters in front of them. Someone in the queue is drafted in to translate.

The airport is our Ellis Island. These people are our huddled masses. This is what the new world order means, and Ireland is on the front line.

Have we considered any of this? Have we even entertained that the mass movement of people is here to stay and Ireland is an attractive place to live? What does this economic force mean for our culture? This question is being asked in every country in Europe – constantly.

Denmark, for so long a country associated with tolerance and liberalism, has enacted some of the most restrictive immigration legislation in Europe, because the Danes have decided that their culture is not strong enough to withstand mass immigration – and they think their culture matters.

The Netherlands, for centuries the country that offered sanctuary for dissenters and outcasts from Spain’s Sephardic Jews to Protestant sects of every kind in the 17th and 18th century, has now also said ‘‘enough’’.

In 2002, Pim Fortuyn tapped into the popular mood when he claimed that Holland was full and that further immigration threatened the very tolerant society that welcomed immigrants in the first place. He was assassinated.

France has always insisted on allegiance to France over multiculturalism. In recent months, this has been challenged, and Nicolas Sarkozy has subsequently made it clear that he will not tolerate ‘‘further dilution’’ of French values.

Yet here, in the country that is receiving the highest net immigration of any country in Europe, the culture debate has not even started. Indeed, soft pieties, rather than hard politics, are dictating the agenda.

However, in 2008, as the housing market continues to tank, the hot debate will not be about economics – because it is clear which way that is going – but culture.

Culture matters, and this will become more evident as the irresistible force of immigration crashes against the immovable object of an inert economy. Something will have to give.


  1. Jim

    Dey Turk errr jerrrbs!

    Ultimately it’s not about culture at all! It’s about resource access. Where people of different cultures compete for the same resources there is always the possibility of violence. There was high levels of unemployment in Ireland in the past. However there were no race riots then because there was no discernible other to blame or attack. Still I remember when I came to Dublin from the country in 1990 I was jokingly accused of “coming here and taking our jobs and our Women” by a Dub.

    The opening of European borders is, in the first case, a capitalist project. The purpose of immigrants in this context is to work for the lowest pay possible while at the same time remaining docile in the workplace. That is: they are here to be exploited.

    Culture is of course porous and impermanent. There is no primordial aspect to it. The culture of Poland or Eastern Europe is not so different that we might be concerned at the possibility of “our culture” being overwritten by it. Therefore the core issue is clearly one of resource access. In other words they took our jobs or they might take them. Now, as far as I’m concerned they can keep them and the Women as well, God help them (the immigrants I mean)!

  2. VincentH

    Culture, in Ireland, which culture are you on about. The nearest thing to describe culture in this place is the white USA.
    The moves on Tara using the principle that we have more than enough of that archaeological stuff explains much. But now in the US the ‘indian’ tradition is recognised.
    While the economic situation and the guests/slaves/serfs is hardly a new situation. The only difference is in the who. In the past, when we had high growth and high incomes and high employment -prior to WW1 and during- the speculation/mortgage on that income destroyed the place for decades. Destroyed liquidity and drove people into protective groups.
    Now underpinning the situation is the belief that when things get bad, the movement out of the state will start again.

  3. Ed

    Most of the immigrants are from Eastern Europe and they will eventually go home. Some Polish have told me that prices are rising back home and in a few years it wont be worth their while coming here. Poland has far greater potential in the future than Ireland, and it’s us that should be looking to Poland for future trade.
    The way we treat them while they’re here will determine our relationship with the Polish people when they return home. At present we have a very good relationship and I sell into Poland against aggressive American competition, which has a major currency advantage. This goes to show that money isn’t everything and if we can hold our heads, we will create a huge swell of goodwill among the peoples from the East that will eventually be of great benefit to us – look at it as investing in our future.

  4. Garry

    Culture is important but religions try to dominate every aspect of the lives of their followers. Today, Islam is the worst offender (although Catholicism here 50 years ago tried its best). A debate on culture without addressing religion is pointless.

    Our democracy guarantees our citizens freedom OF religion and freedom FROM religion. It’s taken thousands of years of history to get to this highpoint of civilization in terms of individual rights. These are our core values in the EU and are too important to be diluted in the name of accommodating different religions.

    Its racist to discriminate on the basis of religion but we are fortunate the largest group of new immigrants here are polish and other eastern europeans. They will adapt to our culture (and enrich it) over time. We would have a much tougher challenge if instead the 750,000 had been muslim immigrants. They would be obliged by their religion to continue the cultural practices that have contributed to the lack of personal liberty and decline of their homelands. Ironically these are the main reasons for leaving in the first place.

  5. Donal

    Garry, it’s not racist to descriminate against one’s religion – It’s Just sectarian

    The Eatern Europeans share our faith which hasn’t added too much of an issue – Yet, but our cultural differences will become more apparent.

    I don’t think they will adapt to our culture either as they like ourselves are very firm in their beliefs and traditions, they do have more personal liberty rights in their own homeland (come on now – the USSR & Iron Curtain collapsed nearly 20 years ago!). They are of course have remained truer to the faith in the last 15 years than us of course which is a credit to them.

    Whatever people’s opinions we need a debate about our culture (and I fully want preserving it with no changes needed from outside – All cultures internally adapt over time anyway!)

    This should also be included In the referendum on the treaty next year!

    I think this debate needs to happen ASAP before its too late – People need to respect the opposition without becoming childish in the arguement, that will show its maturity.

  6. Donal

    Garry, it’s not racist to descriminate against one’s religion – It’s Just sectarian

    The Eatern Europeans share our faith which hasn’t added too much of an issue – Yet, but our cultural differences will become more apparent.

    I don’t think they will adapt to our culture either as they like ourselves are very firm in their beliefs and traditions, they do have more personal liberty rights in their own homeland (come on now – the USSR & Iron Curtain collapsed nearly 20 years ago!). They of course have remained truer to the faith in the last 15 years than us, which is a credit to them.

    Whatever people’s opinions we need a debate about our culture (and I fully want preserving it with no changes needed from outside – All cultures internally adapt over time anyway!)

    This should also be included In the referendum on the treaty next year!

    I think this debate needs to happen ASAP before its too late – People need to respect the opposition without becoming childish in the arguement, that will show its maturity.

  7. Wessel

    Oh boy, so David to initiate a debate you start of with a crass exercise in stereotyping… you got away with it in your last two books, mainly by using creative descriptions of economic segmentations related to current sociographic and population trends in Ireland. It therefore could be excused as pop economics. Not sure it works this time.

    A few years ago I read a book about the history of the Irish in Boston titled “The Boston Irish” by Thomas O’Connor. Your fear mongering resonates with the concerns of the locals about the boat loads of Irish arriving with their distinct culture and religion and how that will threaten “society” (which I suspect is what you actually mean by culture… did not see you try to describe the culture that needs protection anywhere in your piece). The effect of all the WASP initiatives to make life as difficult as possible for the Irish over two centuries was in response a determined effort by the Boston Irish to gain political power. The rest is history in the most Irish of American cities.

    In my opinion the “cultural issue” is to a large extent how everyone (locals and immigrants) adapts to a more diverse society… and as with all social change, it is fuzzy, messy and complex.

    The problem with a debate based on stereotypes is first of all, it leads to misinterpretations and gross simplification and ends up in an exchange of anecdotal observations of people. It is also a give-away of a lack of personal interaction and knowledge of the “target group” who you decided will be Slavic eastern Europeans in your piece (why not UK immigrants?… statistically the largest cohort in my county… your neck of the woods).

    My suggestion… stick to the economics… it lends itself to the broad strokes, such as that the most successful urban economies at present correlates with the more diverse urban populations.

    BTW, back up your assertion of negative equity in the commuter counties. If the permanent-tsb housing index is used, the turning point in house prices was around Jan-Feb 2007. Only those who bought their houses at the start of 2006 and onwards are at this stage under threat of negative equity. Yes, it could get worse, but it is NOT the dramatic slide that you purport (6 – 7% off the highs, and that is with the world-wide impact of the credit crunch). Care to research how many people you estimate are actually in negative equity in the commuter counties as a percentage of the total population?

    And if we should debate immigration and its impact on “culture”, how about an exercise in SSM (Soft Systems Methodology) where you posit a model/prefered system and we debate how it differs from the real world and what could be done to facilitate the prefered system?

  8. Michael Feighery

    Hi David, thanks for your great books. Do you know if there are plans to repeat “The Generation Game” on TV? I missed the last episode. Thanks again, Michael Feighery

  9. Donal

    http://www.irishelection.com/10/e13-trillion-reasons-why-ireland-has-an-overdraft-for-an-economy/#more-2486

    This is worrying!

    David when will we be able to buy the espisodes of your recent series?

  10. Chip on shoulder

    This is how we are being seen around the world and how we have to take action now: these facts cannot be ignored and the “live and let live approach” has failed.

    There are other links to these videos – but be warned they are offensive and out of respect to others I have shoen the links below that are moderate and non-offensive to non-nationals.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OCVG32sKmU&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jxKUyzinno&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSsKj2xwx_U

  11. Chip on shoulder

    This is how we are being seen around the world and how we have to take action now: these facts cannot be ignored and the “live and let live approach” has failed.

    There are other links to these videos – but be warned they are offensive and out of respect to others I have chosen the links below that are moderate and non-offensive to non-nationals.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OCVG32sKmU&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jxKUyzinno&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSsKj2xwx_U

  12. B

    Where exactly have we ever had a live and let live attitude?

    the government made a haimes of it. They have never once proved they were up to the job in the first place. With the amount of resources their :”answers” are short sighted, piecemeal and inadequate. They couldn’t run a bath.

    The doomsayers here say throw the blacks out in so many words. All that this immigration is showing is that we have an old fashioned inadequate government still fighting an idealogical battle with mythical past enemies and have policies based on fantasy and whimsy. What do we expect being run by a motley crew of teachers on multiple salaries and INCAPABLE of grasping reality and a tenuous link with the truth.

    We keep electing these LOSERS and it is OUR fault. We have to either throw them out or accept their idiocy.

    Blaming the Blacks lsi like blaming the rain. Beside the point. We are blaming the results not the causes.

    This is how democracy works. We talk the democracy talk and sweet talk and bullshit till the cows come home but when it comes down to it Democracy is bad for business and most of us couldn’t give a shite once we have a few pennies and a nice Jeep.

    When the chips go down whenever this is we will start to murder the immigrant and STILL elect the wasters and thieves in FF.

  13. Barry.

    Aparte from a drink culture. The GAA. The catholic church and our common hatred for travellers. Can somebody explain what do you mean by Irish Culture…Are you reffering to the writing of the many drunken Irish writers and poets.
    If you want to experience Old Irish Culture…go to any small village on the west coast of Ireland. They still put on lots of ash on their forheads. They go to mass enevry sunday and the parish Preist still controls the schools and all local committees. A lot still speak Irish. They hate outsiders with a vengance and they are all related ????. and they still have so called extreem republican views and hate the “British ” enevn though there would be no roads. raailways , bridges, piers or hospitals and other public buildings in the west without the british.
    Welcome all imigrants…they are are future in this inbreed priest ridden drunken drug fuelled country of dishonest chancers from the top governemnt official to the local council worke…who takes off sick 2 to 3 days a week.

    Roll on the fresh hard working young people from the east , west or south. and inject some new blood into our inbreed population.

  14. John

    The acid test for Ireland will be when we see real competition for the closed shop occupations. I look forward to price competition from non-Irish solicitors, doctors, achitects, dentists, chemists , journalists etc etc who will (hopefully) break the stranglehold of our own so-called professionals.
    Up to now the competition is between poor Irish and poor immigrant with a lot of RTE tut tutting about how awfully racist the poor Irish are. For real racism to show itself will need the injection of foreign professionals to compete with our lazy well helled chancers.
    Notable also that social commentators in this country who get most air-time are those who have had a sheltered nicey nice upbringing and to whom encounters with ordinary Irish people are kept to a minimum. Listen to M.Finucane and her panel any weekend and you will hear the voice of the old smug Ireland ,those who know what is best for the masses.

  15. Jim

    Barry, these are racist comments. They are not politically correct at all. You never see a priest these days. Though I must admit that the GAA always did give the creeps. Of course alcohol abuse is not a problem in Eastern Europe. They are all teetotaller’s like us. Even though the immigrants are here to be exploited in shops, building sites, mushroom factories etc, they are aware of this themselves. They of course can and do engage in forms resistance. As do all low paid and exploited workers. They are not going to work themselves to death for Mr. Gombeen. So you can drop the hard working immigrant story. This scurrilous condemnation of Irish workers as been lazy etc is very convenient when there are people who will work for less. Jim.

  16. Ed

    Barry touched a few raw nerves there – when you think about, it he’s got some valid points and in particular, those relating to infrastructure in the west of Ireland. We have similar standards and aspirations to those of Britain, but without the real means of supporting them. This problem goes right across society from workers looking for unrealistic job security to management, managing by crisis and the professions behaving as though they were back in the days of the Empire. This is the ideal environment in which political cronyism can flourish – the security it can bring to the chosen few is enviable. They’re right out there for all to see – the so called miracle men of our age basking in the glory of virtual success. Perhaps, in the early days of the free state, nothing would have got off the ground without that hidden hand of support, why has it been necessary over the last number of decades? It’s now so institutionalised that it has become a cancer and threatens the economic stability of the country for the benefit of the few. Immigration can now become a convenient smokescreen to hide this unorthodox practice and, ironically, has fed off it to an extent.

    Back to culture – we’re already bicultural and as Tommy Tiernan defines them, “Christy Moor and Bono” – we’re comfortable with both, so another Christian culture should not be too difficult for us to absorb. Some teachers tell me that Eastern European kids are better at languages than Irish kid and at Irish, in particular.
    Perhaps we should be concerned!!

  17. marie

    Every single non Irish/English person that I ever dealt with in this country has a medical card. I work in the health service and all the non Irish/English have medical cards. Not all the Irish have such a thing. Even working foreigners have them. It must cost the tax payer a fortune. I have lived abroad and have had to pay for healthcare. I have seen people from Poland, Nigeria, India all get with medical cards even if they were working or not working. I see this in work all day and have to charge the Irish. Does the government check out how much property/money these non Irish/English have in the countries they come from? Are checks in place to see are they working/partners working? How is this going on? Is it any wonder they come here?
    Soon, Conor Lenihan plans to give them all the vote, so they can vote Fianna Fail.

  18. dom

    Barry’s hate filled comments explain a lot about why we have mass migration in this country. By and large the country is now run by a professional non-elected political and journalistic/ academic class which is controlled by Dublin 4. Dublin 4 is one the last remaining bastions of real racism in the European project, and its Nazi like hatreds are directed to the Irish people, particularly those West of the Shannon. Dublin 4 itself basically consists of the descendants of the original colonial classes in Ireland – the Catholic Old English – who have a lock on the professional classes.( As an aside this group in extermely inbred). This middle class did well after the removal of the penal laws and made merry during the famine when the West was being de-populated as it’s food was stolen to feed Barry’s genocidal ancestors ( after all Dublin did not feed itself)

    The spiritual home Of Dublin 4 racism is trinity college, an anti-irish university which used to fly the Union jack and is now at the forefront of anti-irish rhetoric in the form of “multiculturalism”. You just have to read a tiny amount of Barry’s vile screed to realize how similar the hatreds that Barry’s “class” has are to the Nazi like Der Sturmer articles in 1939 in Germany towards jews. These hatreds are not to be confused with us attacking us. There are no such hatreds towards the indigenous cultures in Germany by Germans, or in France by the French. The thing to remember is that Dublin 4 , however, is not really “us”- it is a culture-less inbred colonial outpost which has no unique culture at all, and is thus reduced to seething hatred of the unique culture of the West of Ireland – the GAA, music, writers etc. You never hear Dublin 4 criticize it’s cocaine addled culture-copycat estates, do you? It is impossible to explain these attitudes , with proper recourse to history, other than as racist hatred. Ask why a unique game is hated so much?. Do Americans hate the NFL? Do Australians hate the Australian rules. Of course not. Dublin 4 seethes with supremacist hatred towards anything that may be unique in Ireland. The problem is uniqueness. Non-Englishness is deviant and wrong, in the colonizers mindset.

    England, and the English, are not racist towards us now – you could not ever imagine hatreds like Barry being expressed, or felt, in the UK these days ( or there would be an international outcry), but just as the English do not hate Australian aboriginals, but Australians do, the colonizing classes of Ireland retain the ancient hatreds of their once Masters, whilst the Masters have moved on. Barry’s racist screed would, I repeat, not be published In England now, but it would have been published at the height of English racism – during the famine when like Barry, the Times of England looked forward to the untermensch of the west of Ireland being replaced by ubermensch – in the Time’s case it was “hardworking” English colonialists; in Barry’s case it is “hardworking” Polish. But he means anybody but the Irish, particularly the Irish of the West of Ireland, and these are merely the old hatreds of the English in Ireland redux. Barry is the more honest exemplar of his class, and we should thank him for removing the veils of Dublin 4 “liberalism”, so we can see their exterminatory hatreds for what they really are: not “liberalism” but the exact opposite.

  19. dom

    If anybody has any doubt about Barrys post-colonial attitudes, note how he thinks that the West Of Ireland “backward” because it dares speak a language other than English – which happens to be the language of their ancestors. The idea that speaking Irish is “backward” is sympthomatic of the post-colonial attitude.

  20. John

    I posted earlier on about the professionals etc. But dom above is barking (mad) up the wrong tree in his rant about D4. I have lived there for 16 years. What I have found is that the worst type of D4 post colonials orginate in rural Ireland then settle in D4, lose the bog accent and assume the phoney English accent. So if dom is right about hatred of the West , its a form of self hatred that he has identified. Natives of D4 are ordinary , open and decent people.Its the D4 wannabes (i.e. country people) who are the out and out snobs.

  21. John

    While I’m at it the last time I heard this type of outpouring was when Aer Lingus switched the routes from Shannon. Dermot Mannion is not from Dublin and he took the decision(not some jackeen!). This was portrayed as another plot by Dublin to put down the Weshht where only “real” Irish people live. My arse.

  22. Aidan

    Barry,
    I am from a small village in the west of Ireland and I think that your stereotypes are from 20 years ago.
    The west of Ireland has changed immeasurably and, if anything, is now become just as anglicized as Dublin which would probably please you from what you wrote. One major change was that the west stopped being two channel land about fifteen years ago and now English television dominates, English newspapers are in the shops and English soccer teams are even more popular than in my youth.
    With the loss of the Irish language the GAA is about the only thing that keeps Ireland somewhat unique. If you have children abroad and try to give them an ‘Irish’ upbringing you end up giving your child pretty much the same upbringing as a British child abroad gets. When I bring my children home to Ireland I despair because the culture there is just so similar to England.
    My wife is Polish and our children will have no problem getting a Polish cultural upbringing because Poland has a separate language, a rich tradition of literature and visual arts, its own cuisine and very many traditions that make Poland different. When I was a lad there were still Wren Boys, there was still an interest in a united Ireland with the Irish language at its heart and I didn’t have difficulty defining what was different about Ireland. Unfortunately, in my opinion, that Ireland is gone.

    in
    When I go back to myome town I do indeed ask myself wh

  23. Donal

    Dom, even though what Barry has said is out of line.

    The English are still very “racist” towards Ireland: the only news they mention on the BBC is when a bomb, riot or act of violence has occured over here and broadcast it to the UK public. They don’t even acknowledge in their own history books about atrocities they committed against their colonial servants – The Irish Famine (What was that, it never happened), The 1919 Massacre in India (Can’t remember the location but they don’t recognise it), The Black & Tans raping and pillaging across Ireland in the 1920′s (Never happened as far they could see, the Irish were so savage in their eyes that the country was partitioned to protect the civilised protestants).

    Ireland needs to protect and claim back elements of its culture, we don’t and will never have the infrastructure and facilities to accomodate people we can’t ever really hold any form of link with.

    Conor Lenihan refered to Turks as “Kebabs”, how can anyone expect him to be a minister of equality and integration? Sadly its going to be more like, Inequality and Disintegration.

    I’m wondering though how his brother Brian is coping with the import of the new UK Demographic phrase and craze of “white flight” that is taking over in D15 where he lives? (White Flight- The native population sell their homes and leave the area because the influx of foreign communities, this has happened in places like Blackburn, Birmingham and all over London (Mentioned on the BBC either earlier this year or late last year on Panorama).

    I don’t believe non-nationals should live or work here, they certainly are not Iirsh because they have no ancestral link to claim this unique and precious identity that should be protected like every other culture and country in the world.

    However, I don’t support acts of dispicable ethnic slurs or calling them names suggesting they are less than able of anyone else in the world. Everyone has the right to visit a country and experience its own culture, without directly or indirectly affecting those customs, norms and values.

    I hope people have read this carefully.

  24. Criostor

    Conor Lenihan shouldn’t let non-nationals claim citizenship at all, when 2008 arrives most of those arrivals will probably pack up and leave because of the “Credit Crunch”.

    The jobs are going to dry up and most of their positions will be let go, because if it is the other way round of dumping Irish Workers. A revolution or something just short of one will happen and resentment will go completely through the roof.

    In times of Trouble, you know whom your friends are and you look after your own….. that is going to happen in the next 6 months.

    What they should do is revoke the citizenship of all the people who invested £1 million punts into the economy from over 12 years ago – Courtesy of A. Reynolds

    And finally revoke the citizenship from people who came over, had their children and got Irish citizenship in return.

    We all know that these were exploited and we can correct this easily

  25. Ed

    Donal wants to take us back to the bad old days of isolation where people had to emigrate unless they were supporters of a certain political party. I don’t remember Britain ever putting up barriers to the Irish going there – the friendly USA, yes, but not Britain. At this stage in our development, blaming the British is no longer an excuse for our own inadequacies – we now must face up to reality and tackle the extremes in our culture like the obvious one in the link below:
    http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_1011618.shtml

  26. Stephen Kenny

    I’m not altogether sure why I’m answering Donal on this, perhaps I’m just a bit bored this week, but accusing the English of racism on these points rather misses the point. You’ve got to remember than anyone studying the history of the British Empire is faced with the history of over 100 countries. There were countless massacres, mutinies, rebellions, and so on. My only recollection of Indian history during Empire times, were the 2 Indian Mutinies. These were big affairs. The massacre at Amtritsar was poultry in comparison. It might sound callous, it probably is callous, but there is just so much history of Empire, that only the major trends and events are known about. We have over 1000 years of very well documented history, you can, if you so wish, analyse the fluctuations of the price of wheat in London during the summer of 1341. Our history, from the time the Romans left in 410, is one of conflict, invasion, assimilation (if that’s what you want to call occupation and near-extermination), and just bloody mayhem. In the first 1000 years of that time we had continuous trouble from the Black Shields (Irish), Saxons, Scots, Welsh, Norse, Normans (relocated Norse), French, to name just the major players. The south coast had a load of attacks by African slave traders as late as the 18th century.
    The English are no more native to these Islands than the Americans are to the USA – we’re a huge mess of mixed up races. I’m more German Jewish than Irish or Scottish, my other two bloodlines, which makes me very English. The last great ‘English’ kings were the Plantagenets, (Henry V and glory at Agincourt “God for Harry, England, and St George” and all that) and were of course Norman French, i.e. Danes/Norweigens. Edward the 1st (Norman French) was proudly named after the last Saxon (i.e. German) King of England, Edward the Confessor. Prince Charles is mainly German and Greek.
    You might even think that England is a proof that multiculturalism works, given that we are so many different races and cultures, but just a glance at our history indicates that it was achieved with a stunning level of unpleasantness, carnage, and slaughter. War one year, trade the next, then war again. The only really well known English King was Arthur, and no one knows if he really existed, and even if he did, he only ruled a small bit of the south.

    Am I attempting to say that the English are not racist? Of course not, but merely that the examples given are not valid. I like countries that make me, a visitor, feel like an outsider. It’s difficult to define cultural identity, but you certainly feel it when you run into it.

    On the Irish news front, we have a surprising amount, mainly about property and dodgy lawyers – something we have deep knowledge of – for a country as small as Ireland, and more than I hear from Wales or Scotland. My Irish cousins tell me that the sectarian violence in the North is still pretty horrible, but we hear not a mumour.

    We are a generation that increasingly no longer cares, although we may know, what our forebares did. A united Ireland seems like a good idea to me, as does a properly independent Scotland and Wales. Nationhood is a good thing, and aligning geography is only sensible.

    Back to my classically English Christmass (mainly imported from Germany by the Victorians).

  27. Criostor

    Ed, not everything about the old days was bad. People were more happier back then because they didn’t have as much to worry about, we are in a bank overdraft of an economy so I think you could easily pack up and leave when the going gets tough – It will happen if you looked at some of the links above.

    Britain still sees Ireland as a colony, that’s why they haven’t put up barriers but they sure don’t provide any representation for the Irish Community in the UK. That’s a definate comment from someone who grew up there and knows from experience, what it is really like as an expatriate in their youth.

    Every nation needs someone else to look down upon.

    If you don’t believe that, fair enough but I would recommend that you take a look at the legacy of the irish community in any UK city (It’s often deprived, malnurished and still as worse off as they first arrived of the boat).

    Unless of course you live in a place like Chelsea, Kensington, Altringham or the small upper class areas of Birmingham because you either went to Law or Medical School.

    The Irish in America had more opportunities in Hell’s Kitchen than Hammersmith.

  28. Observer

    http://www.davidmcwilliams.ie/2007/07/29/time-has-come-to-face-up-to-the-immigration-dilemma

    I see we need to all demand the debate – Realistically how can we provide for the world and its mother with our infrastructure that is limited, mounting debt that will cripple us, ghettos that have already started to emerge and our own culture that needs to be preserved.

    A trust fund for the Irish Diaspora should be established – It can be used to build up this country again and reload our own declining identity.

    No concessions for changing ourselves and no to conforming to others-

    I think the EU deserves the boot

  29. Mohammed Brown

    I don’t like what I’m reading in the past posts. I think Ireland should be more open to other cultures especially Islam. As an Irish Muslim (I converted to Islam), I feel out numbered by the Christian fates and I am engaged at present in talking to ministers to make Ireland take in more Muslims as that is what Ireland needs at present. I also deem the Angulus on RTE as very offensive to my religion and I would like this stopped. I would also like Irish schools to stop teaching Irish and to teach Arabic instead as more people in Europe speaks Arabic than Irish.

    I would like to see Islam represent at least 40% of the population. I have always been against women working, drinking, etc as they are very immoral. Every woman should marry when she reaches the age of 12 which is what Islam says because of our beloved prophet Mohammed married his fourth wife when she was 12 and so it is an offence to a muslim, if he can’t marry his wife when she is 12.

    My wife (She is now 15 and have been happily married for ther past 2 years and I’m also looking for a second wife and I am currenly in talk with a very respected Muslim family in Dublin) stays at home and cooks and doesn’t work and when she goes out I get her to put on a burqa as I deem it offensive for her to show other people her beauty. I think Irish women should start to wear a burqa as this will cut down the amount of sexual assaults on women like in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq.

    I am pleased when I look at France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Holland where we make up roughly 10% of each of the countries populations.

    Christianity is a wasted religion and it is so obvious that Christ did not die on the cross but God took him away in the garden of olives because he was a prophet and as soon as everyone in Ireland realises that Mohammed was the last prophet the better as we can then all come together in peace and pray five times a day in a mosque in Dublin and around the country.

  30. John

    Hard to know which is worse. Mohammed’s muslim taliban or dom’s “west of the shannon anybody who doesnt speak irish is an infidel” taliban.

  31. John

    Then again maybe they are one and the same person?

  32. Observer

    Sadly there are many foreign nationals who secretly support this idea, whilst living in this country.

    That is why Multi-Culturalism would never work especially in Ireland, you’d always have someone in either community who want to dominate or let themselves be taken advantage of without putting up a fight because they are too afraid.

    Middle ground doesn’t exist – Every inch is for the taking and I want it all, I don’t care if its someone elses property – I came, I saw, I conquered.

    This appears to be the mindset of a staggering number of Muslim, Hindu (They often fight with Christian populations there – People should stop just attacking Islam because these other faiths are equally as bad with Christian communities worldwide) and Sikh communities in India and throughtout the UK.

  33. Ed

    Crioster, the old days weren’t good by any standard, there was abject poverty everywhere. I went to school in the fifties and some of my classmates couldn’t afford shoes –  life may have been simpler, but still, there’s no dignity in abject poverty. Some eventually succeeded against all the odds, but had to emigrate to realise their potential. Do you seriously want to return to this ?

    I emigrated to England in the mid sixties with an education of sorts and experienced all the usual affronts that Irish and other nationalities were subjected to. Terry Wogan came over to the BBC and started to pushed the boundaries – he was under so much pressure on his afternoon show that they introduced a competition for the listeners entitled “spot the deliberate error”. However, the established personalities like Eamonn Andrews and Dave Allen attracted no flack and therefore it became obvious most of the affronts were directed at newcomers and, only then, from a small minority ,but nothing vicious. The worst offenders were the first and second generation Irish, who were trying to prove their Englishness – they had to be avoided where possible. I found that whenever there was a gathering force against you, like on the morning after bloody Sunday , it was always an Englishman that came to your rescue – it has something to do with civilisation!
    You must admit that the only exploitation of the Irish was by the Irish in the construction sector and the fallout from this, are the homeless that you now see around London – the English never treated employees as badly as the Irish did. The Irish government hasn’t done much for these down and outs, although they and their fellow emigrants kept the west afloat during the hard times in the fifties and sixties. I don’t know how you can say that the Irish in England didn’t get representation – my experience was that they got the same and possibly more than other migrants. The Irish were different, in that they didn’t act as a cohesive group and tended to be invisible because they lived among the English, that is, apart from areas like Kilburn, Camden Town etc.
    In all, my experience of living there was a positive one – if you wanted to continue with your education, there were no obstacles put in you way – the majority of the Irish, however, didn’t bother to avail of the educational opportunities that were open to them – I’ve known of a Irish waitress that became lecturer in London University, a great achievement in those days – opportunities were there for the taking, but unfortunately, the Irish tended to prefer the pub

  34. Joe H.

    Hands up here who is not taking the piss … (no hands go up) .. thats what I though.

    A lot of it was funny though in a The Phoenix sort of way

    David, you are an original voice and I try to read everything you publish, but when you go interdisciplinary you wander way out of your depth.

    Think Neil Francis on Questions and Answers or Fintan O´Toole interviewing Mark Lawrenson on Today FM. Very, very good in their own areas but when you start to think you have something authoritative to say on everything then Facilis Descensus Averno

    These “culture” issues are a lot more complex and your columns should be 3/4 economics and 1/4 something else (sociology or whatever you are having yourself).

    Yes. That does mean less “look how clever I am” jokes.

  35. Stephen Kenny

    Ed
    I have to agree about 2nd generation immigrants, they are the most vociferous, and frankly tiresome. I guess it;’s simply that the first generation move to get a better life, and they get a better life, so are pretty happy with things (irrespective of how thei life seems to the ethnics). The second generation have no knowledge of the old country, except the ‘Emerald Isle’ sort of fantasy stuff, so view the conparatively low standards that their parents were content with as sign of oppression. You end up with translators in all the hospitals, state forms in a myriad of languages, schools where no one speaks the ethnic tongue, doctors who you can’t communicate with, and endless government agencies beaverinig away with their ever more bizarre social engineering projects and laws.
    Interestingly, it’s also a self-reinforcing process, since the more it goes on, the less generally accpeted norms exist, so new immigrants can land from anywhere in the world and feel no pressure whatsoever to conform, simply because there isn’t really anything to conform to. You therefore become a very attractive country to arrive in. I rather miss a certain degree of social contraint – the greyer areas of good and bad.
    The only question is what’ll happen when this fantasy econolmy we’ve been living in for the last 25 years finally gives way? I really have no idea.

  36. Barry.

    poor Dvid Mc W. when he comments he st get annoyed when we start commenting on each others comments and not on your feature in the SBP on Culture.

    Can you or anybody define Irish culture…

    all our so called Irish culture that Iam aware of us has been imported and added to over the years if not hundred of years.
    Our so called Irish dancing and music came from North africa.

    One small comment on Dvid Mc ‘s features is that he is young and only with age do you attain some level of wisdom. The fears and issues you are trying to rise are not new. I was living and working in the UK when there was a mass imigration of Asians including those from Uganda…and the English trated them like lepers. When an Asian bouht a house in a street the neighbours either side sold up and moved out…the English believed theyuperior…Yet today the children of those same Asians are the doctores, dentists, solicitors and MP’s while the English dont see the need for third level education.

    We need new blood in Ireland and we need to continue to improve and change our society. Claiming we must protect our “Culture and traditions ” is saying we must not change anything or what we have is superior to other cultures and traditions.

    David some day you will have lived long enough tp know there is noting new in mans thoughts and feelings towards people from the next valley or from another contry.

  37. Stephen Kenny

    I’m vaguely surprised by Joe H’s appeal to leave these questions to the experts (putting aside his thinly veiled insults for a moment), since that’s been the case for the past 50 years. It’s a pity really, as these really aren’t social questions so much as political questions. It’s just unfortunate that we’ve had politicians who were too scared to get involved, or who believed the sort of vaguely Marxist dialectic that excludes the idea of cultural variation being much more than funny hats and strange foods, so therefore view such questions as a sign of ignorance, stupidity, and right wing reactionary agitation on the part of the questioner, and view the solution as being to deal with, or re-educate, such questioners.

  38. Ben

    Ireland is not an attractive place to live, and the immigrant will all pack up and leave along with the goldilocks economy that brought them there.

  39. Joe H.

    As a reply to Stephen Kenny … its more a case that David is a undoubtedly a smart lad but by going for the one liners, he makes what are serious points very easy to dismiss.

    Perhaps I was too after the one liner myself in my original comment and the point I wanted to make was lost.

    David writing on economics with a bit of culture thrown in is good authoritative stuff. David writing on culture with a bit of economics is throwaway.

  40. I think it’s really good that David McWilliams is pursuing this debate. I like the arrival of people from so many different backgrounds into Ireland and I like the economic energy they bring to the place. But while I am willing to have my culture modified by them I am not keen to see it swamped. Here’s the problem though: what the hell is our culture? Does anybody know? I think the French know what their culture is and that helps them to stand up for it. But what’s our culture? Maybe that’s what the debate needs to address.
    Padraig

  41. Donal

    Ed, thank you for acknowledging that as time goes on that the later generations have no knowledge of their own history or background.

    That is something that I have been stressing for the las god knows how long.

    Truth be told is the same for South East Asian youths in the UK, they have no concept of what happened before the Partition in 1947 and afterwards. Indians, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans and Pakistanis

    These kids grow up in a culture they don’t really belong into and believe that they are “British” whent they are really only descendants of “Colonial Servants” – 2nd or 3rd Class British citizens because they were occupied by the crown.

    They have very little to look forward to as some of them dropout of High School after GCSE’S or A-Level education. I met one or two good fellas who wanted to make a future for themselves but i found alot of Wealthy Asian Students (British Born) who turned up to class only to take the piss of the subject and not do one piece of work – Real Slackers whom have spat back at their mum and dad’s hard work to try and integrate before.

    The only blacks I saw on campus were either Carribeans or Africans, there were hardly any blacks from the UK. Most of them drop out after GCSE and a small fraction only go further onto University.

    I don’t want those sad events occuring over here.

    I think Minority is a significant description of Non-Native people because only a “Minority” of them will succeed in a host environment.

  42. Criostor

    Padraig, with respect the French strongly feel that they have lost their culture with all the influx of foreign people in france from elsewhere.

    They are very much one of the most bitter and resentful people in europe, the fact being that their relationship in society with the migrants in France have declined to an all-time low following the Riots in Oct 2005. The recent trouble again in france over a month ago was only controlled because they had a battallion of Gendarme on standby if all hell broke loose – I think it will again and a Movie called “La Haine” shows that this has been going on for years.

    Our Culture is:
    Roman Catholic Predominently with some Protestant Elements – Conservative Values attached also to this

    Celtic blood (Even from Spain) and a mixture of Norman Blood

    Irish Language is the tongue that makes us different from the Anglo-Phone world and it is part of the dream to be an irish Speaking Nation.

    Tribal Warriors – Due to our long established reputation for Fighting as Mercenary’s and Soldiers in many conflicts across the world.

    32 Counties in 4 provinces united together under one people and one culture – We have the right to be unique and not follow the suit of pretentiousness from other places in the world who’ve gambled and lost with being Multi-Cultural.

    That is what is meant by being Irish to me and many other people

  43. VincentH

    What makes this a culture is what makes us different from others elsewhere, not what seems similar to people here. Which is seem by others not by ourselves. And it the oddest way this will include the newcomers. But the reading of the Irish Times, speaking the Irish or much else will not change the fact that they will have a gra for their historic culture. Will, in the same way that we bedeck little girls, daughters of New York firemen, in the colourful finery of the dance. Where the Irish is in Oz and NZ classrooms ages after any have ever set foot in this Soil.
    Ethos in the context may hold a clearer attempt to explain, rather than the word culture. It may seem a semantic attempt, but it is a term which will include. Culture excludes and divides. And was used in this context to sever a connection. Ethos allow for things to improve.
    This does not mean that every tit with a JCB has a given right to plough, concrete and tarmac all surfaces. We have the laughable situation where egg and dart plasterwork of a penal era house has more protection, than a five thousand year old monument.

  44. John

    Its a bit early in the day to be at the whiskey. Maybe thats why VincentH is making no sense (or maybe its me and early senility)

  45. sean

    Fianna Fail and the ruling elites in this country have privatised the profits from mass immigration and nationalised the costs.

    Very shortly tens of thouusands of east europeans will be eligible to take out Irish citizenship.
    They will be able to vote both in their home countries and in Irish elections.They will also have two votes in European elections.This is another unforseen consequence of FF opening up the borders to mass immigration.
    Poliitical influence gained from naturalisation will lead to changes in our society by the allocation of resources from low wage Irish to the new citizens.
    This will likely create a culture of conflict amongst the low paid.
    Ireland will begin to look and feel more like a south American country run by a small ,corrupt elite seperated from the lower classes where random violence,murder etc are common.

  46. Donal

    I think people would be furious with that.

    I hope the crash comes soon enough for “The New Irish” to pack up and leave because the resentment will really surge through the roof, from the rest of the nation who really never wanted these people anyway.

    Bertie Ahern however is cooked as a goose, the revenue don’t buy his stories of strange finances and another election will be on the horizon I would assume.

    Kazinski sounds like such an Irish name compared to Callaghan doesn’t it?

    Let’s call our Diaspora cousins from Elsewhere forget the UK (They are mentally English and have no loyalty and sense of connection with Ireland) and tell them to protest like hell and moveover.

  47. Ian

    “The sun on the meadow is summery warm
    The stag in the forest runs free
    But gathered together to greet the storm
    Tomorrow belongs to me

    The branch on the linden is leafy and green
    The Rhine gives its gold to the sea (Gold to the sea)
    But somewhere a glory awaits unseen
    Tomorrow belongs to me

    Now Fatherland, Fatherland, show us the sign
    Your children have waited to see
    The morning will come
    When the world is mine
    Tomorrow belongs to me
    Tomorrow belongs to me
    Tomorrow belongs to me
    Tomorrow belongs to me”

  48. Criostor

    Ian,

    why are you quoting a Third Reich sonnet from what it appears?

    You can be a nationalist without believing in that riducoulous ideology, National Socialists hold true – Sick people they are

  49. Observer

    I’d certainly take a look at those videos on youtube above in this article aswell if you don’t think their will be a problem in the future.

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