Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today's Irish Times featured two articles about immigration/emigration. While I wasn't surprised at all by what the articles said, the story they tell is no less annoying in my mind.

The first article, "Poll shows hardening of attitude toward migrants" says that according to the newspaper's poll, "the vast majority (72 per cent) of people want to see a reduction in the number of non-Irish immigrants living here." They go on to say that young people (ages 18 to 24) feel this most strongly. YET, the article goes on to say that the poll also showed that "some 40 per cent of those in the 18-24 age group say they are likely to emigrate" -- the highest of all the groups. So many of the same people who want to get rid of immigrants also want to become immigrants themselves. That's sort of hypocritical, don't you think?

The sad part, to me: "People in rural areas and those from less well-off backgrounds are also more likely to support a reduction in the number of foreign workers based here." That is, people who are most exploited by the government and capitalist system are least likely to blame the actual problems causing them to have lowered access to work rather than the scapegoat of the immigrant.

The other related article was called, "Lack of jobs brings change in attitudes to migration." The article seems to justify people's misguided fears, saying, "With mounting job losses and increased competition for scarce posts, it is little surprise to see enthusiasm for immigration has cooled significantly." Sure, it's not surprising. But it's also frightening. With these attitudes come action. Violence against immigrants has risen by a third over the past two years. I have personally seen people with dark skin on the street get yelled at by Irish nationals on more than one occasion. (Three, to be exact.) And yet the Irish are literally sprinkled around the globe. The proclivity for the Irish to migrate is a well known fact. So why this attitude? Maybe those who have chosen to stay and tough it out feel they have more rights than other people. I've heard people say that Irish-born have more of a right than non-nationals to get State financial aid. But what makes one human being more deserving of food, water, shelter, and health care than another one? It's an attitude I cannot get my head around. People who emigrate do so in search of something better for themselves, just as the Irish themselves have been doing for hundreds of years. We are all the world's citizens. I don't understand why we can't try to take care of each other.


  1. I completely agree with you. This disconnect between the reality of our Irish migration and immigration to here has been going on a long time!! It's not that long ago that Irish people had to emigrate - my generation mostly left whether for money or adventure. But something just stops people from remembering that. So short-sighted and disrespectful to countries like Germany, American, England who allowed us the right to work; often illegally and in crappy conditions but we were there. And without the money being sent back here in the 50s and 60s??? Economic disaster. Good post!