Archive for the ‘racism’ Category

Race and the lessons of 1916

insurrectionAt the end of Easter 2016 week I feel somewhat 1916-ed out. I spent the week watching Insurrection, the wonderful day by day series about the 1916 Rising produced and directed by my late husband Louis for RTE in 1966 and which was re-broadcast for the first time only this year, fifty years after it was made. I also attended exhibitions and other events, and strolled the festive streets of Dublin. Despite the attempts by our right wing (non) government to write out the revolutionary Rising leaders in favour of reformers such as O’Connell, Parnell, Redmond and Grattan, Dublin did itself proud, with streets festooned with flags and shop windows, from banks to souvenir shops, displaying copies of the 1916 Proclamation and pictures of the 1916 leaders.

Historians encouraged us to remember not only the Rising, but also colonial violence and the fact that Ireland was the first small nation to rise against the British Empire. The events made me reflect on the revolutionary zeal of the republican and socialist leaders of the insurrection and wonder what Ireland would have looked like had they not been executed by the British.

The celebrations made me reflect on post 1916 Ireland, left to De Valera, who kept the island divided and collaborated with the Catholic hierarchy to create a reactionary, priest-ridden, anti-women, pro property owners and anti-foreigners Ireland. Read the rest of this entry »

Short plays about (racist) Ireland, 4

August 2015, my local bus stop

Elderly Man: You write for Metro Eireann, don’t you?

Me: (Thinking ‘great, here’s someone who enjoys my articles’) Yes.

EM: They pay you?

Me: No.

EM: You pay them?

Me: No.

EM: So why (do you write for them)?

Me: Oh, it’s a newspaper read by many migrants and members of ethnic minorities; I enjoy writing for it on a voluntary basis.

EM: Oh yes? Who owns Metro Eireann?

Me: Chinedu Onyejelem… (EM puzzled)… A Nigerian journalist and entrepreneur.

EM: Oh, entrepreneur, is he? He makes money out of ME then, doesn’t he?

Me: Not much…

EM: How much?

Me: (Beginning to loathe this conversation) I don’t know, and I don’t care… and anyway, what is it, a police interrogation?

EM: Oh no, but we live in a country where we speak English… You said ‘not much’, so you must know how much he makes…

Me: (getting truly pissed off) Would you excuse me (turning my back on him but remaining on my spot)

EM: (keeps silent for a while… then comes after me) You Jewish?

I remain silent.

EM: You Jewish, aren’t you?

I take a photo of him on my IPhone.

EM: Why are you taking my picture? What are you going to do with it? Report me to the police?

Me: Oh no, you have done nothing wrong… apart from being a pest…

EM: So I am a pest now, am I? Am I a pest now? (by which stage I have moved away from him, but he continues to stare at me; when I ignore him, he buries his face in a newspaper, but seems to go on mumbling to himself)

Seeking a way out of asylum (centres)

Since Frances Fitzgerald became Minister for Justice, we have been hearing a lot about the need to ‘do something’ about the direct provision centres. Minister of State at the Department of Justice Aodhán O Riordáin said that asylum seekers should be allowed to work after a certain period of time, a right asylum seekers are accorded in all but one other EU state, even though his minister is opposed to asylum seekers working. I suppose she is following the objection of successive ministers, worried it might make Ireland a ‘soft touch’. Indeed, in recent weeks we have heard scaring rumours about asylum figures ‘surging’ to a few hundreds; official Ireland is getting worried it is facing another ‘refugee problem’,  even though it has ensured that asylum applications remain low, and acceptance rates are the lowest in the EU.

In reality we are talking about merely 4,000 asylum seekers housed in the utterly inappropriate direct provision centres, about which much has been written recently, even though they remain hidden from public view. Residents, many of whom have stayed in the hostels for many years, cannot determine where they live, are often forced to share rooms with strangers, and with their children, and are forced to eat unpalatable and monotonous food. Hotel managers often punish residents daring to complain. Women say they do not feel safe and the Children’s ombudsman Emily Logan has spoken publicly on behalf of the 1,600 children whose safety and chances of attaining second and third level education are severely compromised, even though she is legally barred from investigating issues relating to asylum and direct provision. Minister O Riordáin called the system ‘inhumane’ and even Ms Fitzgerald expressed her concerns. What Minister O Riordán did not say was that the direct provision system, cast as ‘costing the taxpayer too much’, actually benefits private Irish money making businesses running the asylum centres. Read the rest of this entry »

Ireland and its children: The septic tank of history

In 1975 a group of local boys in Tuam discovered a slab in the former ground of what was locally known as The Home – one of eight ‘mother-and-baby homes’ throughout Ireland, housing unwed pregnant women and run by nuns – and underneath it they found little skeletons. This discovery was not reported until the recent publication of a report by a local historian, Catherine Corless of 796 deaths of babies in the St Mary’s home between 1925 and 1961. There were some media exaggerations, particularly reports of ‘800 babies found dumped in a septic tank’ and used for medical experiments.

The reality is not as scandalous but not less horrific. Corless confirms that at least 200 babies were put in a working sewer tank, leading William River Pitt in an article titled ‘Men’s rights and the septic tank of history’ (Truthout, 8 June 2014) to call these deaths and the targeting of sexually active Irish women ‘the septic tank of history’.

Despite recent reports on child abuse, the mother-and-baby homes still await a public investigation. These homes – denoting a deep hatred of female sexuality and the visiting of the mothers’ ‘sins’ upon their hapless children – were aimed to hide these unwed mothers’ ‘shame’;  the fathers, be they the women’s lovers, abusers or rapists, were never targeted. Many of the babies born in these ‘homes’ were sold for adoption to wealthy American Catholic childless couples. Many of the women laboured for the nuns in these homes or in Magdalene Laundries, whose horrible story has finally been told in recent years. Read the rest of this entry »

11 June - Remember the Citizenship Referendum?

citizenshipno2Remember ‘citizenship tourism’? Remember ‘pregnant on arrival’? Remember when Dublin’s maternity hospitals were allegedly packed to the brim with ‘non national’ women arriving at the last minute to have citizen children? Remember the 1990 Fajujonu Supreme Court case, giving migrant parents a legal right to remain in Ireland to provide ‘care and company‘ to their citizen child? Remember the 2003 Lobe and Osayande Supreme Court appeal, ruling that ‘non-national‘ parents were no longer allowed to remain in Ireland to bring up their citizen child, privileging the State‘s right to deport and the ‘integrity of the asylum process‘ over citizen children‘s rights?

On June 11 a group of activists is marking the 2004 Citizenship Referendum in which the government of Ireland asked the electorate to put an end to birth right citizenship entitlement granted to all people born in Ireland since 1922 in favour of blood-based citizenship rights granted only to children born in Ireland one of whose parents is a citizen, or entitled to citizenship.  Why are we doing this? Our main aim is to remind people of the Referendum and its effects: it was a sloppy piece of legislation, rushed through and using moral panic in relation to migrants ‘taking over’ and usurping Irish citizenship, the result of which was a two-tier citizenship and the creation of people with fewer rights than Irish citizens.

Read the rest of this entry »

03/18/2018 Migrant Activism and Integration from Below in Ireland

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