No Irish, no blacks, no dogs

Newstalk 106 this morning did a story about immigrant and ethnic minority kids and the troubles some of them are having finding places in their local schools. I got a sort of sick feeling in my stomach as soon as they announced the topic, because I knew that every neanderthal in Dublin would be listening and texting in their views on the matter.

Sure enough. Judging by the comments read out on the air, Dublin is in the company of Jim Crow-era Mississippi and apartheid-era South Africa in terms of its average citizen's enlightenment on racial issues. And listeners were told that those were the milder responses.

One texter said that they spent €7,000 so that their children could attend fee-paying schools with no "minorities". I'm reminded of the expression "a fool and his money are soon parted". What exactly is going to happen to those children when they turn 16 and have to face the real world?

Does anybody seriously think that we can turn the clock back to when Ireland was a monoracial, monoreligious country? (Not that it was ever really either, of course!) Migration and multiculturalism are a fact of life now, all over the world and we cannot possibly be an exception here. People need to learn to deal with this.

I spent my holidays in Africa this year and it really gave me a new perspective on the migration experience. I found it incredibly difficult to be in a place where everyone could tell just by looking at you that you didn't belong, and where you were often the centre of attention just by being there. And this was in a place where my skin colour actually gave me some privileges and where the reaction from people on the street was motivated by curiosity rather than hostility. I really can't imagine how uncomfortable it must be to be on the receiving end of racial attitudes here ... and especially to try to raise children in that sort of environment, to have to try to shield them from the hatred people like the 106 texters were spewing.

When I just wrote that last line, about parents trying to shield their children, my mind flashed back to images from the Holy Cross siege in Ardoyne a few years ago. Most of the 106 texters probably had the same reactions to that as I did - anger, disgust, disbelief. But while they may not be throwing urine-filled condoms at the children - at least, not yet - it is fundamentally the same attitude.

2 comments:

Councillor Seamus Ryan said...

Yes this report is very disturbing. Is this the type of society that we now live in where children are finding it difficult to be educated because of their race. Migration and multiculturalism are indeed a fact of life in Ireland and have enriched this country over the last number of years and are to be welcomed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Seamus.

It's a bit scary, as really, there are not all that many incoming immigrants anymore. The numbers are going down in the past few years yet the panic seems to be increasing!

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