Friday, August 16, 2019

Sorry, I missed the party

Irish Current Affairs Blog of the Year

What does it mean to be an Irish "patriot" in 2019?

Dear “patriots” of Ireland,

My apologies. I am sorry I did not get to attend your Dublin street rally last weekend.

It would have been good to travel across the country for three hours to stand in solidarity with a fellow former newspaper journalist who wants to stand up for free speech.

Only she blocked me from following her on Twitter months ago, just for asking a pretty innocuous question about her beliefs.

It would really have been a bold expression in favour of freedom to stand alongside an ex-journalist who, until recently, used to rant on her YouTube channel wondering if white Irish women who sleep with black African men were “fools”, “sluts” and “whores”.

Of course, she was only asking questions. She didn’t say straight out that these women were prostitutes, but she had heard, you see, that “some African guys” were impregnating Irish woman so that they could get residency in Ireland.

It would have been brave to stand beside the woman who described an appalling terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand as a “false flag” operation. You see, I’m more inclined to believe a former journalist thousands of miles away in Dublin than the New Zealand police who actually were on the scene and had to investigate the appalling slaughter of 51 people.

By a "terrorist" who also happens to be a white supremacist.

Funny how the protesters didn’t pop down the road to Facebook, to complain that the mass murderer at the Christchurch mosques had been able to video part of the slaughter live on their site. No. Better to lament the closure of the YouTube account of someone who believes that the Irish will become an ethnic minority in their own country in just a few years.

Gemma O'Doherty used her YouTube channel to denounce immigration

Better to lament the closure of a channel which has been consistently used to claim that our country is being “inundated” with migrants who are adding to the crises in our health care and housing sectors.

It would have been "nice" to go along and listen to the leader of a new political party who wants to deport all of the immigrants living in Ireland.

How I would have liked to stand there and watch him ridicule the mental health of a woman he despises, mainly because she is best known for campaigning in favour of vaccinations for Irish children.

This is a man, by the way, who proclaims that the threat of suicide does not justify legal abortion under any circumstances; a man who has admitted attending rallies organised by far-right parties in other counties.

I have actually seen him on social media proclaiming that white Irish Catholics are the “superior” race and that the Irish need to retain their Judeo-Christian heritage.

It would have been interesting to hear him talk, mainly because my work over the past five years has seen me meet many of the survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and the families of the 796 disappeared (or missing, or dead, or adopted for money, or buried in an unmarked grave) children.

I’d love to know when this superior Catholic Ireland existed.

Survivors of the Tuam Home standing together in solidarity last year

Was it when their mothers and sisters were dragged out of their beds in the dead of night and locked up in inhumane institutions for the crime of having children?

Was it when gay and lesbian people (I have seen them described as “perverts” in videos from the Dublin protests) were so afraid of revealing their true identities that they felt they had no choice but to take their own lives?

Was it back in the days (not so long ago at all) when young female rape victims had to sneak off to London or Liverpool, in shame, because Ireland judged them so harshly even though they had done nothing wrong?

Was this mythical Catholic Ireland evident in the priests who beat Irish children so cruelly after branding them as “illegitimate” ... or the whispered tales about men of the cloth who were moved around from one parish to another whenever anyone tried to expose their crimes against Irish children?

Do we really want to go back to that Ireland, in which the Bishop of Galway used to urge his flock to beat their daughters if they dared to venture out late at night?

Funny how we have protests outside the headquarters of Google, but none outside the HQs of the religious institutions who have not paid the victims of their crimes a fraction of the damages they owe?

Remembering the 796 'Tuam Babies' with baby shoes last year

It would have been interesting to be in Barrack Street last weekend, alright, to witness fascist salutes at an Irish protest for the first time in my life.

I’m aware that my country was colonised, that Irish people were second class citizens in their own land, and I’d have found it interesting, no disturbing, to see people associate a far-right salute with our beloved national flag.

How quickly we forget that we were once the despised refugees ourselves. And, if you think we are the "superior race", pity you didn't tell the British in the 1950s when they greeted people in search of accommodation with signs which read 'No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs'.

It would have been interesting to see if the three men who engaged in Nazi salutes last Saturday were ignored or challenged by those who had supposedly gone to Barrack Street to support free speech. Instead of pretending they were "plants" from the other side.

It is clear that Ireland is in a mess, that the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” has never been wider and that the Irish Government have let us down in terms of housing, homelessness, inequality, job security, vulture funds, ‘jobs for the boys’, and the provision of proper health care.

But people are now using social media sites to call for refugees to be burned alive in boarded up Direct Provision centres.

And those who choose hate and fear above love, equality, and justice seem to have little understanding of what generations of Irish people went through when they landed, penniless and full of fear, on the shores of the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.

Some of the protesters in Dublin see nothing wrong with social media posts which call for migrants to be locked up and burnt alive inside their homes.

They want to drag us back to an Ireland which turned a blind eye to the crimes of the Catholic clergy, where gay and lesbian people were “perverted”, and where teenage rape victims or couples given a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormalities had to sneak away to the UK on ferries, as though they were common criminals.

Our country has voted to give gay people equal rights, to give women under duress the right to choose, and we are largely a welcoming people who remember how so many of our people had to flee our homeland in search of better lives.

I could have joined the protest in Dublin, but no thanks.

I don’t want to be dragged back to an Ireland of drawn curtains, squinting windows, harsh judgements, and “disappeared” young women and children, hidden away in homes and industrial schools.

This mythical Ireland beloved of the far-right either never existed in the first place or mistreated its most vulnerable in a way which would be unthinkable to the young people of today.

Freedom of speech? Yes. Tackle corruption? By all means. Deal with the bankers and vulture funds?

Of course.

But there’s no dragging us back to a horrible or non-existent past.

We have come too far from the days when women were locked up for the "crime" of being raped or lesbian and gay people were told they don't belong in their own land.

Yes, dear "patriots" of Dublin, your Ireland is not my Ireland.

Never was.

--  * Ciaran Tierney won the Irish Current Affairs and Politics Blog of the Year award at the Tramline, Dublin, in October 2018. Find him on Facebook  or Twitter here. Visit his website here - A former newspaper journalist, he is seeking new opportunities in a digital world.