Are you right there, Father Ted?

28 July 2005

Was browsing over on the Irish Independent’s site (reg or bugmenot req’d), and came across a letter on the topic of immigration. It was written agreeing with one in the paper the previous day. I hadn’t seen the first one, so took a peek. It’d make you wonder.

In an ideal world we should have no immigration control, no borders and no deportations. But this world is pretty far from ideal, I think everyone would agree with that [1], so I don’t really have an issue with the idea of some immigration control. But the idea that it should be in place to protect some notion of Irishness, and the fears that we will be turned into nothing but a collection of disparate peoples, with no common identity at all is shite.

What exactly is Irishness anyway?
Do we exclude people who weren’t born here? What about people whose parents were born here? And all those whose ancestors were English or Scottish planters? Or the Normans? If you go back far enough you can see that there are plenty of previous invasions of Ireland. So who is really Irish?

And how on earth is using such statements such as total destruction of our society going to help this debate at all?

If this country had immigration on the scale of that of Britain, Ireland, as we know it, would cease to exist. Our cultural heritage, that we have striven for generations to protect, would disappear. We would be a people without a home. The Irish nation would then be truly scattered across the globe like the proverbial ‘wandering Jew’ with aspirations of the promised land that never materialised.

Mr. O’Reilly then goes on to say that if we had been as “multicultural” back in Pearse’s day the Irish Republic of today never would have existed at all. Well so what? No doubt a different version would.
I’m a republican in that I believe in a republican form of government, not in the US-ian sense, and not in the NI sense. And I’m a patriot in that I love living in Ireland, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see all the faults we have. That doesn’t mean I think this country is any better than any other. It isn’t. But no country is better than it. Maybe a more multi-cultural republic would have lessened the authority of the catholic church and so helped to prevent all those scandals.

The scaremongering in these letters is ridiculous. Our particular culture, society, whatever you want to call it, it’s not valuable because of where it came from. It’s valuable if it serves the people living here today. It’s important to have a sense of identity, but if you think that the average Irish person alive today has much in common with an average Irish person from 100 years ago you are very much mistaken.

Of course, I could stoop to the level of the letter writers and point out that, by their reasoning, the fact that they live in the US and the UK means they are either foreign nationals themselves, and so don’t deserve a say. Or that they are (to paraphrase) depleting the national resources of the UK and the US and should be kicked out at once as they are inflicting Irish-ness upon those two soverign states.

[1] – Just take a look around; Sudan; Baghdad; Niger; Nepal etc. (back)

And if you’re wondering where the title of this post comes from it is the Hitler episode of Father Ted

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2 Responses

  1. Anne says:

    It's the exact same line of reasoning that national(ist) parties are using the world over. Scary.

  2. Fence says:

    People and what they think are scary -scary and weird.