More Irish than the Irish themselves?

On another matter entirely, the Indo are leading with a story today about immigrants and social welfare fraud.

While I'm not denying that this exists, the Indo's coverage of crimes committed by foreign nationals has become disgracefully tabloidesque. For some reason, the nationality of the (alleged) criminal always merits a place in the headline when the person is not Irish. But you hardly ever see headlines like "Corkonians caught in PPS scam", "Clondalkin native jailed for drug smuggling", "Hunt for Kerryman on fatal assault indictment". When a suspect is Irish, as most of them are, that fact isn't seen to be worth mentioning, and the result is that a person reading the paper is subtly fed the idea that foreigners are responsible for all the crime in this country.

The funny thing about this article is of course that Irish people have been taking liberties with the social welfare system for decades. (I'm not necessarily condemning them for this, because the levels of social welfare in this state are quite low - far lower than they are in most European countries, and frequently not enough to live on - especially in the case of families.) There are parts of this city, not terribly far from where I live, where it's probably the rule rather than the exception. But I don't recall the Indo running any huge headline stories on that lately.

Indeed, shouldn't this be viewed in the context of the recent brouhaha sparked by Enda Kenny's call for immigrants to adapt to Irish society? Enda said that immigrants need to "integrate into our communities" and "respect our cultural traditions".

If the Indo's story is true, perhaps they're actually doing a better job of that than we know.

2 comments:

Irish Times Page 4 said...

When a suspect is Irish, as most of them are, that fact isn't seen to be worth mentioning, and the result is that a person reading the paper is subtly fed the idea that foreigners are responsible for all the crime in this country

When a person reads the headline in a newspaper - say the Times page 4 today - Court stops prosecution of garmer on sex charges - people presume he is an Irish male. It is only when there is a difference between himself, and the general sterotype is it mentioned - in this case that he is a farmer. If he were a woman, it would be mentioned, as it is unusual - similiarily if he was a foreigner.

Your complaint about mentioning a persons national origin is broadly similiar to the newspaper referencing his farming background. Should the newspaper today not have refered to him as a farmer? Just have said court stops prosecution of individual on sex charges?

Wednesday said...

When a person reads the headline in a newspaper - say the Times page 4 today - Court stops prosecution of garmer on sex charges - people presume he is an Irish male.

I don't think people "presume" the person is Irish; I think they just don't think about the person's nationality at all. And that's how it should be, because it's irrelevant in these cases.

Should the newspaper today not have refered to him as a farmer?

Referring to him as a farmer is not going to feed into stereotypes that have potentially gravely damaging consequences. If we were in the midst of a growing societal panic attack about farmers then yes, I would say that headlines screaming about farmer crime should be avoided.

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