Today saw over four thousand people become “new” Irish citizens, the 73rd such group to become, in the words of Justice Minister Alan Shatter, “part of the national family” since citizenship ceremonies were introduced in June 2011.
At a time when Ireland’s national morale is near to an all-time low, it is good to remember that there is still hope in Ireland and hope for Ireland. It seems to me a vote of confidence in Ireland that people come here from every continent and say “I want to be Irish” and it lifts my heart that we are still, despite everything, capable of showing generosity as a Nation. Maybe the idea of an Irish welcome isn’t so much blarney after all.
Or maybe it is. We once voted, and recently enough, by a massive majority, that a child born in Ireland is not necessarily Irish. It is fervently to be hoped that such days are behind us and a manifestation of the worst excesses of the Celtic Tiger.
And yet. I hear it all the time, the mean-spirited remark that “They shouldn’t be let in” or “Haven’t we enough of them” or worse. My favourite refrain from the hard-of-feeling is “We should look after our own first”. You never seem to hear that from people who actually give a damn about “our own”, do you?
The satirist Tara Flynn was herself subjected to appalling attacks when she made the film “Racist B&B“, a very funny and subtly serious piece of work highlighting the racist abuse aimed at her husband.
Attitudes toward immigrants tend to harden in times of austerity and while we have yet to see any sort of large-scale organised anti-immigrant groups, we have plenty of free-range racists and we have no shortage of those wanting to appeal to them. Noel O’Flynn TD managed to top the poll in Cork North-Central in 2002 after calling asylum-seekers in Cork “spongers, freeloaders and conmen”.
There have been attempts to form an Irish fascist party, which thankfully fell apart in predictably hilarious fashion. This was the brain-child of, principally, a Mr Michael Quinn, about whom the mighty Fintan O’Toolbox has blogged here. More about Ireland’s hapless fascists in a moment.
We have been so-far blessed in the sheer stupidity of those who would organise in the name of racism in Ireland. We cannot afford to be complacent. That said, this really made me smile. My friend Elaine Edwards saw a depressing piece of graffiti on a hoarding on Tara Street in Dublin the other day. “Ireland for the Irish” was its deep and meaningful message. However, by the time Elaine had returned to photograph it (above), some brilliant soul had amended it so it now read “Ireland for all. Feck racism”.
Mark Twain said “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand”, so courtesy of my pal Rudy, I’ll leave you with one of the funniest things I’ve ever read on the internet.
Ireland’s seven-man fascist movement is already on its third Split, the latest of which occurred when “The Irish Nationalist Movement” broke off from “Democratic Right Ireland”. This is the report on The Split, as written by former Quinn lieutenant John Kavanagh. Sadly, it omits Kavanagh’s summation of Quinn’s fighting prowess: “He was in the IRA for years and all he learned to do was bite people”. These guys are exactly who you think they are. Enjoy.