Shifting attitudes to immigration

Kevin Denny and I have a little piece on this in VOX (  It contains a link to our working paper on the subject.

103 replies on “Shifting attitudes to immigration”

Most interesting. May I ask what made you form a link between Xenophobia and “anti gay or lesbian rights”.

This link must have been made in the type of questions which were asked of the subject population.

Why was this link made?

On a second question… Was it correct to use the term “Xenophobia”. Because if the subject population’s fear IS rational and reasonable then can the term “xenophobia” be used?

Lee Chin, the Wexford hurler, was quoted in the Indo yesterday. He said he has spent his whole life listening to racist abuse.

@ Kevin Denny

‘The Irish National Election Study, a panel survey conducted between 2002 and 2007, indicated that hostility to immigrants was strongly correlated with hostility to travellers,…’

Minor point: Upper_case “T” for Travellers please.

Which group has had more cuts (in percentage terms) than any other group in Irish society in recent years? Travellers [~80%]

Minor proposition: “Z” for Irish Travellers @2002 = “Z” @ 2012.

Hunch: stat sig***

Anyone care to take this on?

Minor propisition #2:

“Z” Irish Travellers > “Z” for all groups of immigrants to Hibernia

Hunch: statsig*********

@DOD travelers keep on traveling why should the settled community give then jack,how many pay taxes,what’s the criminal conviction/charge ratio viz a viz any other section of society,give it a rest.
Hostility more like common sense.

A very interesting paper! However, it lacks an appropriate context i.e. the distinction that must be drawn between nationals of the EU and non-nationals thereof.

Even if it is accepted that paper is about attitudes to immigration in terms that would be understood generally, the distinction is a vital one. Indeed to the title of the paper [Irish Attitudes to Immigration During and after the Boom] could be added the words “and the concurrent enlargement of the EU”.

Main question that should be asked of Irish interviewees: would you allow or be in favour of your daughter or son marrying one of them “foreigners” (and list various countries like Romania, Bulgaria, etc).

Spent 6 months helping a young Bulgarian guy in Dublin highly legally qualified 2.1 LLM from Trinity, 1st in basic BCL degree. Couldn’t get an apprenticeship even though he had also gained entry into Blackhall Place. Huge discrimination….I got him some interviews with contacts of mine only to have him more or less racially abused, etc. sometimes more subtle from the larger law firms. He worked various non-paid apprenticeships to keep his CV going. Terrific guy. Got him into a tier 2 firm eventually.

I met him through his mother who was a waitress in a pub restaurant. She and her husband were working multiple low paid jobs. Great people. Worried about her son and the loans that he had racked up to get through law school.

Kind of immigrants Ireland could do with.

Have to say though that I have little or no time for the less savory elements of Travellers, Romanians, Nigerians, etc…..nor Irish unsavory and criminal types I have to say!

@ Paul W.

Good point, and well done to you for helping that chap out.

However I suspect Mr Denny requires to make the distinction between savory and unsavory immigrants as distinct from classing unsavory as xenophobic.

Why opinions of others sexual orientation came into the survey… I don’t understand.

@Sporthog,makes you laugh these economists stating the bleeding obvious with graphs, x and o’s.Its kinda obvious to pretty much ANYONE that someone with liberal sex views will also be open to immigrants,duh!
Why not ask if welfare scroungers were banned as they are in Canada and the US,what would people’s attitudes be.

@ Sporthog

Presumably they allow an insight in to individual ‘tolerance’, i.e. whether the populations views are devided along traditional liberal/conservative lines. Or whether there dislike of foreigners is solely an economic ‘they’re taking our jobs’ phenomenon.

@ John Foody,

Personally, I would cautious about “presuming” anything.

Condemning “a person” and condemning “an action” are two different things entirely.

It would appear that Mr Denny fails to understand this.

The obvious comment that [para] education is correlated to racial tolerance is not dealt with in any depth which is surprising given it is one key ingredient. However, it is easy for the better off to state that less well educated (and well off) are more racist when it is not them who are struggling to put food on the table, get a job, survive. Is survival-based prejudice racist in the same way as condescending better-off racial prejudice? As with many of these things, racism reflects in a spectrum of prejudice and, while racism is one word, it is not a mono subject, obviously.

Not all immigrants are Irish loving or value added to Irish society either. So why should they be treated with kitten-gloves?

There are cultural differences… is it encumbent on the natives to be more tolerant or on the immigrants to integrate into the local culture. In the UK, Muslim communities have been notoriously against integration in the main part. However, culturally, Irish catholicism /Catholicism, Judaism, etc only allowed marriage with same religion. Accepted Institutionalized racism?

Ireland is generally tolerant of others…as this study says. It’s not a racially apartheid country. However, educational, cultural, economic, etc differences do exist….so what, provided people aren’t getting injured, killed or intentionally badly treated? Just need to get on with it, as in other multi-racial societies e.g. In the UK and US. The mainstream is working fine for the majority of people.

@ Paul W,

You raise some interesting observations of “both sides of the coin” so to speak.

What would you make of Ms Angela Merkel’s comment that “multiculturalism has failed in Germany”?

Is multiculturalism working in the UK? Will multiculturalism work in Ireland?

Depends if the cultures in question are compatible I suppose, and if two cultures are incompatible… then does that make one xenophobic, or just realistic?

@Kevin Denny & Cormac Ó Gráda

Within its ‘statistical’ constraints [0,1] this is useful. More detailed stat critique, and so-called ‘objectivity’ I leave to the ‘ontologically challenged’ neopositivist reviewers.

Change in ‘age’ effects in the later period “may” reflect emerging ‘parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle’ concern on son/daughter/gran_etc family member emigration and a perception [real or imagined] that immigrants may fill ‘their’ labor market slots. That said most Irish emigrants are well educated and many leave jobs here.

BTW I do not consider Donovan & Murphy ‘useful’ – far too ideological and establishmentarian for my ‘tastes’

Evidence on increasing ‘cosmopolitanism’ is welcome. Table 1 on Anti-Traveller useful.

Amazing what one can produce on the ol’ Commodore_64.

@Paul W

“Ireland is generally tolerant of others…as this study says. It’s not a racially apartheid country.”

See Table 1, Column 2. ‘Not racially apartheid’?

Methinks it has its ‘stans’.

@Sporthog and DO’D

Can’t really contradict Mde Merkel re multiculturalism in Germany…..Don’t see Germany in any event as really multi-cultural, but not an area of expertise for me! Other than the negative reaction to and of the Turks and Muslims in Germany, and history, and comparing the Netherlands (where I have more exposure in the social context), neither Germany nor the Netherlands are particularly inherently racially prejudiced these days at least.

As far as I am concerned, the UK is probably the most socially multi-cultural in the world….and also one of the most tolerant societies. My GP brother in London always goes on about how he continues to be amazed at the level of inter-racial marriage in the country. My own experience of work in the UK also empirically supports that (to me). The fact that “no blacks, no dogs, no Irish” is firmly in the past tells much…not just for the Irish of course.

Not saying that there aren’t problems in these countries of course….but it’s minority stuff in the main, and trouble break out is more economic oriented than racial.

Re Ireland, my own family has a number of different races by marriage. Fairly mainstream….French, Italian, Dutch, Japanese. All have had very positive lives in Ireland…..and not all very well off.

My German and Dutch friends who have lived in Ireland rave about the place… Dublin, one observation has been how relatively accessible and safe it is for teenagers to geton the DART and socialize in central Dublin, compared to many other cities….

None of that is to say is that Ireland is some sort of Utopia (socially, etc and certainly not economically these days). Still, far away fields can seem greener….

Btw, Spanish and Bolivian also in my family, by marriage…Large number of siblings on both sides! All thinks Ireland is socially Utopian relative to many other places. Don’t mention the bloody weather though! and they are less likely to want to discuss property, interest rates and pensions compared to the Irish!

“On the one hand, at least so far, Ireland has been spared the xenophobic brand of politics currently in the ascendant across much of Europe – Ireland lacks a Front National or a Lega Nord. ”

Who pays for these reports I mean really….

“Join Sinn Féin’s grassroots online community of activists and supporters who are dedicated to the reunification of Ireland and to building a new republic founded on the principles of justice and equality for all.”

People (insiders) who need “objective information” to spin Ireland as a Utopia I guess!

Also a breather from property, interest rates , pensions and the economy….!

@Paul W,happy new year Paul,assume the sample excluded anyone who still believes that SF is the mouthpiece for criminal drug dealing gangsters and extortionists, murders,hiding under the tricolor,basically a gang of scumbags that terrorized Ireland for way way too long and is blatantly openly racist and xenophobic and was up until recently quite ascendant in the polls,more as a protest vote thankfully they still an rather acquired taste….

“successive Eurobarometer polls since the early 2000s suggest that the Irish worry much less about immigration than citizens of neighbouring European economies.”

The graphs certainly would lead one to the conclusion that Irish people are as blase about immigration as they are about emigration. However, in my experience, as an Irish person, meeting other Irish people daily, concerns are anything but benign. Also, maybe the reason other countries worry more about the effects of immigration is their attitudes are informed by many decades of immigration as opposed to emigration.

Am I the only one that suspects that Ireland’s love affair with off loading it’s surplus to requirements natives, on any and every country that will take the orphan’s in, has had an impact on Irish people being able to express their true feelings on government policies that have been responsible for an inward flux of immigration equal to 20% to 25% of out total population. In little more than ten or eleven years, an irreversible ‘experiment’ has been carried out which no other country in Europe has dared to carry out. The official figures of course are way off the mark as anyone that works with immigrants will know.

“Some consistent patterns emerge. Women and rural dwellers were, and are, more hostile to immigration; the educated and the foreign-born less so. ”

Does this imply that women and rural dwellers who are “hostile to immigration” are not among the “educated”? Does it further imply that that because they hold certain attitudes towards immigration, they are less ‘educated’ than those that hold pro immigration attitudes? What a load of skewed, economic and social ‘scientific’ baloney!

If we just look at the building industry. Irish attitudes to immigrants were, ‘we need them to build our apartment complexes’. This quickly changed to, ‘we need you to buy them from us, as there are no other customers’ to mop up the 85,000 units a year that were being built, to a realization, vehemently denied at first, that 30 year mortgages could not be serviced by immigrants who were soon to be unemployed. A further realization then followed, that the country was now bust and was going to pay dearly for it’s economic miracle.

Hey John

Happy New Year. Let’s catch up sometime in Jan….did you get a tan down south?

I like that place we met last!

SF doesn’t do it for me either. Interesting point though – Irish Xenophobia and N Ireland. Too boring for the academics? Now that there is “peace”, and even have visits from the British Queen, seems that the Irish Nation’s trad British Xenophobic bent is truly out of kilter! All this “reconciliation” pulled the rug……

@Paul W,perfect I get in touch,yeah i doubt too many Protestants have joined the “new” SF:)
Their “supporters” have a lot more in common certainly in Dublin,with the national front in the UK.I wonder do they still go hawking that awful rag “An Phoblact” in the bars/pubs in the shadier parts off Dublin.Didn’t strike me as an awfully inclusive bunch…

20-25% of the total population……hardly. But a very significant non-nat population all the same.

Worked out a lot in that large gym in Clontarf a couple of years ago when I was there for work…what’s it called again? My wife just googled for me….Westwood.

Huge numbers of Eastern Europeans attend the gym, in a very positive manner I should add. Fit, educated, good looking, etc. Many working in call centre or IT type jobs (East Wall, etc)……and therefore not in direct competition with the Irish for employment in any event.

It always seems to me that, being young and single for the most part, they represent a transient population……Only a small proportion will settle permanently in Ireland…Not unlike young Irish in places such as Australia and Canada…..but the latter will have very few opportunity to return other than for the occasional vacation.

The other impression Ireland’s immigrants have left me with in recent years relates to taxis. Have always found that the non-nat taxi driver (many Nigerians) generally keeps a very clean car, is courteous, honest, hardworking, etc. Unlike some (ok small number) of the native drivers… scumbag of a lady driver some years ago in particular immediately springs to mind…not worth telling the story here.


‘… my own family has a number of different races by marriage, fairly mainstream, French, Italian, Dutch, Japanese.

What definition of ‘race’ is being used here? Or ‘mainstream’?

Also, what’s a ‘lady driver’? And a ‘scumbag’? Unless you’re taking us completely off the ( attitudes to immigration) topic and back to vilification of (Irish?, ‘native’?) bankers, developers and estate agents!

The Economist said in a Christmas leader on the apparent impending opening of the floodgates for Bulgarians and Romanians:

Britain’s labour market is Europe’s most flexible. Its economy is at last growing strongly. Its people are not prejudiced in practice: the polls that show huge opposition to your arrival also suggest that most Britons would consider employing you to work on their houses. The country is used to immigrants. Particularly in London, you will discover all kinds of exotic folk, many of whom were similarly despised when they first arrived. If you are really worried about prejudice, just pretend to be Italian. Nobody will know.

As for Irish attitudes, it shouldn’t be surprising that the rapid change from boom to bust left many bewildered and at a time of job scarcity, that some people would wonder if there was a preference for immigrants because they would be cheaper to keep employed – and until recent times that would be likely the reality in for example the hospitality industry where in 2010 almost 30% of staff were from overseas.

The paper says:

Less easy to understand is the finding that the greater the difficulty people have in making ends meet, the higher is Z (for xenophobia).

As for the ‘educated’/ or people with education, some presumably would be aware what the politically correct answer would be to some questions.

There is a percentage of every population that is racist but people can have questions about immigration without meriting the tag “xenophobia” and in the UK case as cited above, the reaction at a personal level to immigrants differs from what is suggested by general attitudes to immigration.

The large influx of immigrants into Britain from former colonies did give rise to problems in traditional communities, brilliantly dramatised in the 1999 film ‘East is East,’ which is set in 1971 Salford. However, House of Commons data shows that “the numbers migrating to and from the UK was roughly in balance and from the 1960s to the early 1990s the number of emigrants was often greater than the number of immigrants. Over the last two decades, both immigration and emigration have increased to historically high levels, with immigration exceeding emigration by more than 100,000 in every year since 1998.”

I have a particular interest in intolerance as my two children are natives of the Philippines. Their experience growing up in Ireland was a very positive one.

It’s intriguing that black Africans likely head the global rankings as targets of prejudice while as gay rights improve in parts of the world, they’re getting worse in Africa.

James Baldwin was the most famous and infamous black American writer in the 1950s and towards the end of the decade, he left his exile in Paris to participate in the civil rights movement. He was however shunned by the mainstream leaders of the movement as he was openly gay.

Michael, our definition of xenophobia in the paper is explicitly about being more averse to immigration from other ethnic groups/races than from ones own. One could also perhaps use the word racist. But there is really no perfect word. All one can do is be clear about the definition and the interpretation- which we have endeavoured to be.
In related work with the same data and cited in the paper, I look at homophobia. Again one could quibble with the word in that context but I don’t know a better term.
The point you raise about political correctness is a valid one: surveys like this can be prone to social desirability bias. That is, you may tell the interviewer what you think they want to hear. This may differ across groups. For similar reasons, responses to questions of an intimate nature can depend on the sex of the interviewer.

@MH this is rather hyperbolic,given SF poll numbers at 15% and unification.Independents are polling 22% some hold extremely interesting views say on “money” owed and how it’s paid back and on Europe.So long as the people who lent the money don’t want it back yep very tolerant….

I find it difficult to reconcile some off the statements in the report,whilst ignoring the surge in support for a nationalist party whose raison d’être is a united Ireland and only recently dropped the armalite and ballot box strategy.

“At the same time, the Irish are becoming more tolerant towards people from very different backgrounds.”link above.

“In March 2005, Mitchell Reiss, the United States special envoy to Northern Ireland, condemned the party’s links to the IRA, saying “it is hard to understand how a European country in the year 2005 can have a private army associated with a political party”.[83]”éin

@ M.H.

Your comment brings us back to the point that I made above about the implications of EU membership which the authors of the paper are either oblivious to or consider not to be relevant.

From my own experience, Irish people are well aware of the fact that EU citizens are free to live and work (and acquire property) anywhere in the EU and, more importantly, that they themselves have a reciprocal right to do so.

If this aspect is ignored e.g. in terms of the questions posed with regard to assessing attitudes, the debate in Ireland simply cannot be related to that actually taking place in a wider European context. It is especially lively in two major countries of the EU, our nearest neighbour and Germany.

Responsible leadership is required in all countries when dealing with the general issue. Merkel is reduced to kicking the issue of “benefit tourism” into a committee, at least until the Bavarian state elections are out of the way.

As to the deplorable manner in which the issue has been handled by Cameron to date, in an evident attempt to outflank UKIP, the antics of one Keith Vaz have moved even the Telegraph to a position more in line with general opinion in in the UK.

@ MH

A brilliant analysis by Andrew Rawnsley of what might be called Cameron’s Conundrum.

How matters play out in the UK in the matter of EU free movement and EU immigration is a matter of no small interest, given the common travel area with the UK and the fact that Ireland and the UK (or rather the other way around) are the only countries to maintain passport checks of EU citizens at their external borders.

@ JG

He did get elected, which says a lot for the cop-on of a large sector of the electorate in the most well-off constituency in Ireland.

I see little scope for a new political party but that does not mean that the general thesis espoused by Lucinda Creighton – that the radical nature of the crisis impacting the country has not been met with the required radical reform response – is both true and worthy of support.

The catalyst for reform, in any case, will not come from any political party but from the grassroots awakening of the wealth-creating sections of the electorate that they are being taken to the cleaners.

@DOCM,one of many reasons why I loathe SF is the poisonous and destabilizing impact on “change” in that for a long time they were the only protest option,notwithstanding the fact most off the current leadership should be retired,having gotten a get out of jail card.


Indeed you’re right that this is no small ( EU and global) matter in a ‘free movement’ context, particularly for a much-vaunted small open economy totally dependent for growth from exports to pay down debt and reduce still very high unemployment. Not to mention the goodwill of ‘foreign’ employers in and out of Ireland.

A serious debate on immigration, without mishmashing (sic) together refugees, asylum seekers and welfare abuse ( most of which , in Europe, is by ‘natives’) is what’s called for.

Matthew d’Ancona’s phrase, ‘immigration as a public good that needs to be sensibly managed’, from the Telegraph link you provided is a good starting point.

Keith Vaz, a notorious shill who recently askeding the Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian during a Parliamentary Committee hearing on media accountability if he ‘loved’ Britain like Keith did ( as a test of?) is a poor place to start.

It’s good that Kevin Denny attempts to be clear about his definition of xenophobia but let’s be equally clear that there’s no such thing as the Irish ‘race’. Or the French, Dutch, Belgian, German or European!

Fair enough. Mainstream for the purposes of this conversation would be other EU or large 1st world country like Japan. The current debate in the UK and Irish context refers to the potential large influx of Romanians and Bulgarians……but in Ireland, there are also other large Eastern European (eg Poles), African and Asian contingent in particular. Plenty of others too of course.

Were the recent objections to the proposed enlarged Jewish museum in Dublin partly racially motivated. For some maybe but the Jewish people have since the 2nd world war in particular, been a feature of racial diversity and tolerance in Ireland. In Cork, when I was growing up the area of Blackrock Cork known as “Jew Town” was a feature as was the election of Goldberg as the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Cork.

Actually, we should sample poll on how much racial diversity there is in the families of bloggers here…?

Female driver if you like. I was brought up to open doors for women….although I am learning that is less acceptable inequality terms to our modern day teenagers!

Scumbag is scumbag. Apply whatever personal definition you like!

Agreed that one can have questions about immigration without being racist – good point. The subject can get awfully PC and distorted. In the US, a certain “reverse” prejudice has developed particularly but not exclusively among black America. So for example when a cashier inadvertently wrong changes (for say minor amount), the “accusation” often arising that the non-Caucasian customer is being somehow victimized. Or in queues, similar can happen. However, the point is that one gets quite extreme examples in what continues to be a very difficult area of human relations (and definition I might add). Differences being equated as racial prejudice.

Have to say though that the Irish tend to get on very well with most in the world…..and we are everywhere! A well known bamboo pub operator in Southern Thailand nicknamed “Paddy the Meath” comes to mind!

@ RF

For the record, I am not suggesting that any debate should start with Keith Vaz, my only point being that the “antics” by him, to which I referred, pulled up short the debate – on the supposed immediate wave of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants – in the UK, nobody of any consequence being willing to be subjected to deserved ridicule by continuing it. Matt caught the mood well!

@ JG: Things, political-wise in Ireland, are somewhat in a flux. Poorly performing economies have that effect. I suspect that a significant number of Irish voters are now in the ‘For Rent’ sector (core support for traditional parties has declined). Thought I prefer the ‘Te Hoor’ translation. Seems somehow more apt!

Sinn Fein is an ideologically driven, totalitarian, nationalist socialist party (ask of a Sicilian speaker for a fair translation of SF – it comes out near enough as Cosa Nostra). Close to 30% of the Irish voters do not exercise their franchise in parliamentary elections. But significant caution is advised as the Voter Register is badly out-of-date. Very difficult to have confidence in any poll estimates.

The Loverely Lucinda is pitching her message at the arboreal extremities of South, SE and NE Dublin. And possibly at the Tá Sé Mahogany Gas Pipe brigade as well. That’s it. Too diffuse to really matter. If Stephen D has any political sense, he’ll give that lady a very wide berth indeed.

FF will ‘claw back’ – reluctantly, their errant sheep. Labour will be lucky if they have 6 or more deputies. Actually, they deserve extinction á la Clann na Talhman. FG will lose seats. Doing the coalition math after the next parliamentary election will be most interesting. I’d predict two, possibly three, parliamentary elections in as many years (vide: early 1980s) to ‘settle’ matters. That is, the Independents are reduced back to 4% – 5% from the current 17%. And all political bets are off if our economy experiences energy shocks.

The Balkan Republics of our North-East may revert to Mean if the UK economy were to stagnate. God knows what would happen politically if the UK were to re-enter a prolonged recession.

Island dwellers tend to xenophobia. Its the default setting, and goes with the territory, as they say. Being surrounded by water, and all: the available ‘fields’ are few, and fixed.

Oxford Dictionary (albeit American edition on the internet) definition of race:

each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics: people of all races, colors, and creeds
a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group:
the fact or condition of belonging to a racial division or group; the qualities or characteristics associated with this:

Forgot to mention my English ‘native’ relatives (again by marriage)….strange that! It must be my inherent Irish prejudice.

And sure my American relatives as well.

A Freudian slip perhaps.

“As for Irish attitudes, it shouldn’t be surprising that the rapid change from boom to bust left many bewildered and at a time of job scarcity”

From memory the paper measures attitudes towards immigrants from pre and post bust, finding evidence of hostility (much chage? cant remember) in both stages.

“As for the ‘educated’/ or people with education, some presumably would be aware what the politically correct answer would be to some questions.”

No this is an assumption to fit your politics. Show it. Afaicr the paper deals with this – one reason (among many perhaps) is that the more educated are less likely to live among recent immigrants and compete for jobs and resources (schools etc)

“There is a percentage of every population that is racist but people can have questions about immigration without meriting the tag “xenophobia” ”

Of course, but this is a strawman. And there’s no need to paraenthesis xenophobia, it exists. The question is how much is driven by xenophobia. If the economic case for immigration is positive (and in a general sense I think it is, with caveats) and if there’s widespread hostility to immigration (not only from people directly effected with reduced wages etc) then why is that? Its a legitimate question and xenophobia will be *part* of the answer.

“The large influx of immigrants into Britain from former colonies did give rise to problems in traditional communities”

Of course it did, but this statement is a generalsation to the point of nullity. You could swap “large influx of immigrants” with any large social change and the point would remain the same.

“It’s intriguing that black Africans likely head the global rankings as targets of prejudice while as gay rights improve in parts of the world, they’re getting worse in Africa.”

I dont see why this is relevant. *No one* makes the case that a lot of African countries arent hostile to gay rights. But what does this have to do with the topic? Unless your worry is that African immigration will undermine gay rights in Ireland? (I think thats unlikely in any meaningful way)

An interesting aspect of immigration in Ireland has been the high standards or even ambition brought by the immigrants.A good example of this is the Kumon program in Ireland:

Interesting that the link appears to show a white Irish girl…..when in fact the vast majority of Kumon attendees in Irish centres are either Asian or African North county Dublin centres have large Nigerian children attending…..sons and daughters of typically Anglican practicing, travelling in from places like Balbriggan, etc. The Asian-dominant Kumon centres are concentrated in better off areas…..a function of where people live it appears.

So, those Nigerian taxi drivers are working hard at getting their children educated……My interaction with the Bulgarian society there (above) demonstrates similar…..The Asians in Ireland are working at getting educated more than everyone, everywhere (as usual)…

Would be good if some of it would rub off on the “lazy” end of the Irish.

It’s interesting too that, when the Irish have emigrated, the visible priority of the first generation settling in their new worlds has been education, education, education.

I disagree with the other RF that we need a ‘debate about’ immigration. Ive seen that ‘debate’ in a number of countries and it’s always nothing short of abysmal. This is a nice short article on the Biritsh debate

Of course there are arguments against immigration, and legitimate normative preferences, and from my personal experience Ive seen (most people I know) object to immigration for a number of reasons (from out and out racism, to a more general fear of change to a direct effect immigrants have had on wages so on and so forth)
Its a complicated topic, but should be kept in mind that even if the effects on the receiving country are probably ambiguos to the point of irrelevant, for the person coming its a a huge positive effect (in increased wages, life prospects, opportunities for their children etc – and in most cases for the countries they come from – in remittances, offering incentives for others to get skills, diffusion of political ideas back home, taking the strain of social services etc)

Interesting too was something my Bulgarian mother waitressing, multi-jobbing, etc in Dublin was “We are treated like Romanians….but we are not, we are very different to them…Bulgaria is near to Italy…We are very like the Italians.”

Race “brand”, first impressions, etc……You will remember that Irish everywhere were pissed off by news articles a while back about our wayward, drunken students summer-“working” in San Diego….or the more recent derogatory articles along similar lines in Australia.

Besides the racial aspects, Irish reaction is as much economic as anything else,to protect the “Green Jersey”. No?

@Brian Woods Snr,Happy new year Brian,I hope the garden did not get too lashed out of it,the office cut short my way too brief sojourn in the sun due to the rather ferocious and freezing storm here in NY,which was imminent and majorly disruptive to travel.

Thank you and agree on your analysis especially regarding Labour,which deserve to be hoisted by their own petard over Frankfurt’s way.
Quite interesting if SF holds the “swing” i take it the authors above don’t consider that the Protestant population,would to be immigrants under SF’s a nation once again master plan.

Incidentally I have way more in common,with the Protestant work ethic and frugal views on money/debt that the catholic paddys with the…if ya have it shur spend it attitude. I did actually search the SF website,the section on the peace process is still under construction,link below,but one the planks in the the plan is a massive push again for the irish language ..huh what year is it 1914 or 2014:)

Pondering your SF support in Ireland versus new tolerance of the Irish for foreigners.

In a debate long ago in UCC, Gerry Adams (first time I heard him….not very “audibly attractive” to me I must confess…dubbed by RTE in those days) said that the “struggle” was primarily a socio-economic one. I think that still applies to SF’s positioning in Irish politics today…..they have found a slot on the far left. Fair enough. I think that it isn’t correct anymore to (automatically) equate the current political support with the murderous past of the SF party….things have genuinely (but not perfectly) moved on…..even if many are still trying to put Adams, etc to “the sword”re the past. We don’t forget the past of course, but we need to move on…..If friends in the North can forgive (but not forget), so should we….?

Perhaps the tolerance for the new foreigners in Ireland is therefore Ireland trying to move on socially from the “boring” and out-of-date prejudices of the past (you will remember the daily negative and murderous news from the North while growing up)… realization that we Irish are more Europeanized and globalized than ever. Whatever it is, it is good to be able to visit friends in Belfast without having to go through steel barriers and British army patrols….and to recognize anyone on the SF /IRA end who have not moved on for what they are….murderous, criminal scumbags with no political legitimacy.

Great too to see that “peace” has lead to a surge and fluidity of social and economic movement between North and South, and vice versa. Long may it continue. The next generations will be less and less bigoted.

@Paul W,perhaps if so called decommissioned Semtex didn’t keep oh just turning up in the unlikeliest of spots,I may be more included to turn a blind eye to some of the atrocities committed by the Provo thugs and raving lunatics under the name of “republicanism”,which besmirched the good name of many true patriots and ruined countless lives.

As we are somewhat on this topic,he’s got 14 million viewers yep,on a much lighter note,and I’ve probably flogged that SF angle enough.

@ JG: Nope John Its 1014 they have in view: their minds being absent elsewhere (cf: The President’s Brain is Missing).

Its Marxian (as in Groucho). Conjure if you will, and you will need some strong chemical aids, that if everything, like EVERYTHING, in Tir na n’Og, were to conducted in our First Official! Even the Leprechauns would emigrate! And Stormont would be the new Alamo!

@ Paul W: SF have no intention whatsoever of ‘moving on’ as you term it. Their collective minds are mired in the ephemeral, misty and mystical Celtic bogs of the 19th cent., dredged up by the laudanum induced euphorias of Yeats and Co., then paved over in virtual green gossamer by the Gaelic League. It might be interesting if you encountered the whole thing in a book of myths and legends. Think of it (SF policy) as Sweaty Gelly! To call it hazardous to the political well-being of this island is a massive underestimate.

Folk have to eat Paul. And they will only vote for the politicians that butter their bread. SF proffer pap – with a 4″x 2″ cudgel in their other hand! The Irish voters may indeed be a bunch of ‘sheep’, but they are neither blind nor deaf.

@ DOCM: “I see little scope for a new political party but that does not mean that the general thesis espoused by Lucinda Creighton – that the radical nature of the crisis impacting the country has not been met with the required radical reform response – is both true and worthy of support.”

Perhaps interested folk should read: ‘The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth’, Benjamin Friedman. (2004).

My take on his tentative thesis: that there may be a direct relationship between increasing economic/income growth trends and increasing personal and political freedoms, is that in Ireland’s case we were an integral part of The Empire until 1922 and we did ‘benefit’ immediately and directly from the political reforms that were introduced from time to time by Westminster.

But since 1922? And would folk consider the De Valera/McQuaid years as a bunch of laughs – in terms of political and personal freedoms? Mother and Child anyone! And someone please remind me how long it took to get Contraception, Divorce and Pregnancy Termination legislation on our statute books. The dismal list goes on.

OK, so we do rank close to 1 on the Freedom House listings of political and personal freedoms. But we are an English speaking Northern European state, albeit a peripheral one. That alone may explain a lot. EU membership may also explain (in part) some others. The Omens for future improvements in our political, economic and personal freedoms are iffy. Interesting, as they say.

“meeting other Irish people daily, concerns are anything but benign”

I would say, from my experience, on a day to day basis, immigration features very low on ‘irish peoples’ list of concerns. It’s certainly a topic someone can whip up a storm about, and there are quite extreme confliciting opinions on the subject, but my impression (only afaik) is that in general immigration does not figure (in western countries) as a subject most people vote on, or that concerns them in a coherent, consistent way.

“Am I the only one that suspects that Ireland’s love affair with off loading it’s surplus to requirements natives, on any and every country that will take the orphan’s in, has had an impact on Irish people being able to express their true feelings on government policies that have been responsible for an inward flux of immigration equal to 20% to 25% of out total population. In little more than ten or eleven years, an irreversible ‘experiment’ has been carried out which no other country in Europe has dared to carry out. The official figures of course are way off the mark as anyone that works with immigrants will know.”

A few things here. ‘Love affair’ is hyperbolic. What Irelands history of emigration shows is that Ireland (as a small country in a large global economy) will for the forseeable future be an emigrating country, regardless of government policy, and will go through phases where we dont export people and where we do. So an international norm that favours free movement of people is on our interest. Regardless of whether this is good or bad, it’s the reality.
I dont know where your 20-25% figures come from or what it means in that context. Our population is increasing (at the minute) with immigrants to the rate of 20-5% of those leaving?
Ireland had a huge (relative) influx of people during the boom, agreed – Your ‘experiment’. But how did it work? Certainly no real ethnicity based riots, no apocalypse. When the economy crashed a lot left. I’m not sure where the evidence is that the ‘experiment’ failed?

“Does this imply that women and rural dwellers who are “hostile to immigration” are not among the “educated”? Does it further imply that that because they hold certain attitudes towards immigration, they are less ‘educated’ than those that hold pro immigration attitudes? What a load of skewed, economic and social ’scientific’ baloney!”

No, of course not. I am pretty sure the papesr ‘educated’ grouping applies to what level of education the person has reached (no LC, LC, undergrad etc)

And on race – Ireland has benefited historically from race based immigration policies (where non whites have been excluded) Irish immigrants have benefited in recent times (primarily in the 20th century) from not having to deal with institutionalised racism in countries they emigrated to (although they faced sorts of discrimination it wasn’t comparable to what non whites faced)
So although race as we know it is socially constructed etc, we need to bear in mind the realities of how different groups are recieved in countries. Evertyhing is never equal.

@BW Snr
Happy New Year Brian.

Have an uncle priest who has spent the last 56 years in South Africa (another country!)……he is 89 years old but stillpractices as a priest in Soweto. Has lived in Soweto most of his adult life (only priest that has done so). When I was approx.13 yrs old, I remember hiis recounting of the atrocities in SA by the security forces and he was an active ANC supporter (knew Mandela and Biko). He spent a few years in the bush with the rebels…not fighting, but administering “the Faith”. A few years later when I was 18, many of those stories were the basis of the movie Cry Freedom (in the movie there were two priests who assisted the crossing of the border in the end…in real life there was only one priest involved…two were used to disguise his identity!).

My thoughts on NI have also therefore always had a SA comparison and parrallel, plus my wife’s dad was a protestant Unionist born in Cavan…..

The SA influence means that I am nowadays more open to reconciliation of the previous terrorists (including the likes of previous “official” terrorists like Mandela…). Not quite the same, exact thing as NI, but strong parallels all the same.

Anyway, everyone in Ireland agrees that the SF rhetoric is out-of-date 19th century rhetoric….but that is clearly moving on. It’s a gradual progression…time will tell, etc. However,condemnation in advance isn’t the way I choose to approach the subject. Nuf said.

Agreed…’s imperfect, and lines are blurred….but hopefully in a progression to a better democratic basis, even if it is to the far left (with Republican “ideals” re unification).

The economic point though is that the NI peace process has brought positive immigration and emigration for both parts of the island. NI is now a real competitor for FDI…..positive competition for the South, and also a source of some employment for skilled southerners in the North. All that is good in my view, as is the absence of the violence of prior years. It will be increasingly better as the younger generations put time between the present /future and the past.

By the way, that protestant work ethic has always been a feature of Ireland and Irish institutions…..BOI has a strong protestant background as did Ulster Bank of course (AIB was more republican), the large accounting, law, etc firms in Ireland have mainly protestant backgrounds and founders.

It has never been black or white. My wife’s protestant relatives were known in Kerry for hiding Old IRA activists from the Black and Tans…..Such is the fabric, diversity and complexity of Irish society.

Anyway, interesting thread.

Just to add – my guess would be that future generations will look back on the idea of excluding people based on where they were born (or at least justifying that exclusion) the same way we look back on *explicit* class or race based discrimination historically.
That doesnt say anything to the here and now (and I dont support fully open borders personally), but Im interested to see how opinion changes on this.

@Paul W,by which metric would that be now:)

“Nobody of course disputes that Northern Ireland’s current economic performance is woeful. But rather than addressing the issue, devolving corporation tax could make it worse. It’s telling – if not surprising that some of those campaigning for the devolution of corporation tax were once poster boys for the Euro. And that in itself, perhaps tells us everything we need to know.”

And finally (really) Ill link to this

“The British way of life is being eroded. Things should go back to how they used to be. Anyone else remember my own specific childhood? That’s what I mean by the British way of life – a set of circumstances to which only I can relate”

On “Z”: Sometimes one doesn’t really need to think about predicting or explaining or controlling – one simply looks, listens and ‘tastes’ what immediatly comes to the eyes, the ears and the ‘tongue’; and as one scans around here (practically in real time) the empirics simply flash upon the inward eye and snaps the picture. One can then take a break, take in some life, and figure the bleed1n piece of stored aesthetics/rubbish later on.

Ok,last one. sorry. I dont want to troll. but worth reading

“Soon, the young sandwich-makers incarcerated and then deported from Collier’s doorstep will have arrived in Algeria and Bangladesh, if they have not already. Some of the effects of their removal have been proved by stacks of economic studies; others are hypothetical. What research shows is that the economic value of those men’s labor will decline by 60 to 80 percent or more, reducing the size of the world economy; the job prospects of British workers will be essentially unaffected, given how little interest they have in low-wage service work; the British government will collect less tax revenue; Collier and his colleagues will pay slightly more for tea and cakes; and Algeria and Bangladesh will lose whatever money those men may have been sending home.

Beyond those well-documented effects, Collier posits other, wildly hypothetical effects: that the Oxonians strolling down Holywell Street will be able to gaze at one another with more trust and mutual regard, and that somehow people working in Algeria and Bangladesh will become more motivated to improve their lots and their countries. British national identity will also be protected, like an endangered species, for were England to become “an extension of Bangladesh,” Collier writes at one point, “it would be a terrible loss to global cultures.” Social science may one day prove all this speculation right, but not before other and better books arrive to lift the heavy burden of proof, serving up evidence in place of portentous insinuations and fearful “preventative policies.” “

Given some of the comments on SF here perhaps some commented have problems with Irish people more so than immigrants.


“It’s intriguing that black Africans likely head the global rankings as targets of prejudice while as gay rights improve in parts of the world, they’re getting worse in Africa.”

Is it intriguing? The top 3 target groups when things are trina chéile are

1 religious/ethnic minorities
2 sexual minorities
3 women

Russia isn’t a great place to be GLBT these days either.
Things are bad in Europe but they are much worse in the peripheral regions – eg the Sahel, the former Soviet Union. It’s easy to blame gay people for problems that have nothing to do with them.

You can always argue the point….if you have something to say why not have a go.

Clarification – Cry Freedom: the priests were the other way around. Two in real life (one dressed as priest; one real Irish priest); in the movie, one dressed up as a priest. It’s been a long time since I thought about that or looked at the movie…must do so again sometime soon!

Apologies,had to head out to do the grocery shopping! Latest I can find for NI is this:

NI commentary tends to compare NI with other UK regions, and NI is not doing as well as elsewhere in the UK. However,comparison with the ROI is more favourable……


@Paul W,thanks Paul as you know I’m an immigrant myself.
Lived in London at the height of the Provos murder campaign in the early 90’s experienced first hand the destruction and disruption caused by those thugs.
Emigrated to Canada then the US,so no issue with migratory people or the “irish” just the ones that murder,threaten and intimate others and their supporters/enablers.

“Explosives, firearms and ammunition discovered in Dublin last week included Provisional IRA weapons that should have been decommissioned, according to the gardaí.
15kg of semtex explosive along with handguns, shotguns, a sub-machine gun, electronic devices and over 1,300 rounds of ammunition were found on land at the Old Airport Road in Cloghran.
It is the largest ever dissident republican arms and explosives find.
The seizure is also significant as it appears to indicate that not all of the Provisional IRA’s guns and bombs have been decommissioned.”

Sorry,no apologies here for not accepting any definition of “Irish” or “Irishness” in SF terms, if that what you are suggesting. SF represents a small minority north and south of the border, and have made gains on the back of Ireland’s harsh economic realities for many. Nothing more.

What “analysis” have you to offer?

By the way, PQ, do you represent SF or affiliated in any particular views, personally or professionally, as per Shay B’s request for transparency?

NYTimes article, there seems to be a mismatch between what our Uni’s are producing and the type of employees required by the MNCs’ we are attracting.
Every foreign employee they attract will fill an otherwise vacant housing unit. On the other hand is there a decent ROI on the many hundreds of thousand of hours wasted on outmoded subjects starting in kindergarten.

It is a clear issue for Ireland…..with a crocked economy, insolvent public and private finances, etc, in the absence of imported skilled labour how does Ireland’s education and education development keep up with the new job skills’ demand in a country where, in the first instance, there is a shortage of teachers qualified to impart the required knowledge and skills, where these industries are moving forward, innovating, changing at incredible rates, and where the (not always unspoken) govt policy is to promote emigration (mainly of the young)?

The country could perhaps do better…but those skilled immigrants are needed and add value, upfront, but also over time.

Also, as the Irish education system, from elementary school through to third level is mainly PS in a social democracy, with jobs for life for educators, etc, how does one alter the long established structure (including budgeting) of the system in favour of the required new disciplines? The country doesn’t need e.g. more lawyers at this time….but it’s not possible to dismantle existing uni law depts in any meaningful way….now extend that to many other similar disciplines.

It’s good that immigration issues are debated as otherwise the issue would be left to be exploited by political parties seeking to fan fears that are not supported by the facts.

The European Parliament campaign is underway and Sweden, which had immigrant riots last year, has its own populist party that has risen in public support to 10% – not the force that the FN is in France but significant enough.

@Paul W
Jobs for life even in Universities with the tenure system is a myth. In a large part of the world when the department is eliminated the professors are laid off if they cannot be placed elsewhere within the University.

Out in the real world 90 days notice with severance of 3 weeks for first year and 2 weeks for each subsequent year of service is considered generous. There are usually provisions for employees over 55 and 60 years old to receive immediate pensions that are prorated (downward)to account for longer pension draw.

We have tenured profs in the family (not in Irl) so I am familiar with what goes on in academia.

You get change by voting out incumbent politicians until the changes are made. Nowhere are we forced to return tweedle dum and tweedle dee, election after election.

I know you have stated accurately what the position in Ireland is. We are so risk averse and stuck in the past that only pressure from the troika will force change. Even though I am sober I still get rattled at the state of affairs.


rf( the ‘other’!) is right about the ‘abysmal’ level of debate on immigration in many countries, particularly in Europe.

Mainstream parties are allowing themselves, for the usual electoral reasons, to be bounced into extreme positions by a plethora of populist, anti-immigration ( ‘Tea Party!) outfits across Europe, some of which have low support but others threatening to determine who gets to govern:

Five Star Movement ( Italy)
Alternative for Germany
Danish People’s Party
Swedish Democrats
True Finns
Party for Freedom (Netherlands)
Golden Dawn (Greece)
Front National ( France)

Many of these parties are openly racist while all contend that the European Union threatens ordinary peoples’ lives and jobs by facilitating free movement of labour.

The research/working paper giving rise to this thread is welcome if it helps to improve the level of debate on management of immigration, a legitimate challenge as long as borders and nation states exist.

For the record, ‘race’, correctly identified by some commenters as a ‘social construct’ has long been discredited by scientists and anthropologists as a basis for collective differentiation in both physical and behavioral traits.

Obsolete classification systems are used by the extreme parties mentioned to obfuscate fact-based debate on real issues like immigration management.

In a world of 7 billion it is perhaps worth bearing in mind that Europe accounts for about 7% of global population, most babies born last year in the US were born to so-called ‘minorities’, and that ‘we’, in Europe and the US, are today the ‘other’ in demographic and ‘racial’ terms.

Given that over half of global GDP is now extra-Europe/US we might want to conduct the debate in the hope that we will be treated slightly better when what these extremist parties call the ‘other’ today takes its place uncontestably as the demographic and economic ‘we’ tomorrow!

So, to hell with political correctness, let’s talk about the (mostly positive) demographic and economic effects of immigration.

Most of the Irish ‘race’ in the world has never set foot in Ireland and, incidentally, most Muslims in the world have never set foot in the Middle Easy. Or met an Arab!

@ Local + PQ: “Mudslinging about Sinn Fein”. Give us a break! One either knows what their policy means – and how it came to be, or you do not. They are crypto-Fascists, not Constitutional Republicans.

You are welcome to ‘defend’ them if you so wish. I will continue to critique them. If my commentaries come over as ‘mudslinging’ then so be it. But as a matter of interest, just how did SF deal with their critics? They sure as hell did not stoop to slinging bits of wet clay, now did they? And Local: lift that balaclava and lets see who you are? OK!

Leave this sub-thread be. It contributes nothing positive to the opening topic.

@ BWSnr/Paul W

As you know, I have plenty of time for both your views. I have never been a member of any party, and I am very sorry for all who have suffered. That said, I simply don’t buy the ‘Dublin’ line on ‘criminal’ evil’ SF, and certainly not in the cartoon version peddled above by john g. Those comment are ridiculously unbalanced and historically illiterate.

The ‘Dublin’ perspective is in denial about repeated election results, especially in NI, where the colonial shoe really pinched in the modern era. In my view, that view reflects a narrow neoliberal group of vested private interests which have taken control the Irish MSM. It sells.

It is also reflective of the comfortable official stakeholders to which DOCM rightly, and regularly, points, and who have preserved their own positions, an those of their families, by facilitating the above ‘business and property friendly’ agenda.

The current economic ‘recovery’ cannot hope to extend beyond the modern day Pale, namely Dublin FDIland. Insofar as it persists, it will have effect of increasing, rather than reducing, the already significant divisions in our society. ‘Track suits’, and travellers, are real people, with real lives, too. It is not good news that they are less and less inclined to vote.

In this ‘recovery’ scenario, the remaining natives and the immigrants will be left to scramble at the bottom of the temporary low paid employment churn. No wonder so many able young people are headed for the exits. Xenophobia is bound to increase in such a stagnant, toxic atmosphere, but the ‘winners’ will simply not ‘understand’ it.

As Mark Twain said ‘Its hard to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it’.

It used to be the law that a person’s birth in Ireland was sufficient to make him or her an Irish citizen. The (racist ?) referendum to change this was not a Sinn Fein proposal and indeed their opposition to it cost them votes. Vincent Browne drew attention to the underlying racism in the proposal hidden behind an economic argument. He also made the point that he did not think that those advocating the change were racist. However, it was a useful vote getter for some, particularly in Dublin. Exploiting peoples fear of foreigners is a well established electoral tactic.

There’s certainly much to what Paul Quigley says about the centrality of low paid and temporary employment to any debate about European ‘recovery’ right now. As well as to this ‘immigration’ debate.

The diminishing share of labour in existing and future prosperity in Western democracies is also behind Obama’s efforts to address ‘inequality’ in the US.

The UKIPs and Front Nationals are successfully harvesting the economic discontent of both right and left middle and ‘working poor’ classes, focusing this discontent on immigration and bouncing mainstream parties into doing the same thing.

Leaving ‘colonial and ‘neoliberal’ labels aside ( can we?) it is clear that vested private ( and public?) interests are ‘winning’ this recovery in Europe and the US.

Convincing the ‘track suits’ on both sides of the Atlantic that this is the fault of some ‘other’ ( immigrants or the rising middle classes in emerging economies) is successfully distracting attention from this core issue. An issue that will continue to divide Western societies while global free movement of labour accelerates.

No need to underline that this underlying ‘neoliberal’? freedom of movement of capital and labour is what fuels our export-dependent economy AND mops up OUR emigrants ( skilled and unskilled) who can’t access ‘recovery’ at ‘home’.

I’d suggest that this is closer to real debate than discussions of ‘race’, ethnicity, call it what you will.

@ Paul Quigley: Much obliged for that contribution. Apologies if anything I wrote came across as a personal slight. None was intended.

Each time I come across the issue of immigration I think of the countless thousands of my countrymen and women who ‘fled’ to Britain (and elsewhere in the English-speaking world) to seek waged-labour employments. It really bothers me that they had to go, but I am somewhat comforted that many may have created a better life for themselves – though many clearly did not.

My forebears did not migrate. They hung around and made what they could of their situations. So, I believe that us current inhabitants had better watch what we say about immigration into this country.

Its 20 years since I read Joe Lee’s account of Irish societal politics. I’ll have to re-visit it for some re-enlightenment. There is also Crotty and Schmitt and Coakley and Gallagher. Do folk actually read properly researched historical stuff – rather than relying on newspaper columnists and leader writers – and this site?

‘Ireland 1912-1985: Politics and Society’. J.J. Lee.

‘Ireland and the Politics of Change’. W. Crotty and D. Schmitt, eds.

‘Politics in the Republic of Ireland’, 4ed. J. Coakley and M. Gallagher, eds.

@ Paul Quigley

It was in fact Upton Sinclair, not Mark Twain, in his book “I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (1935)”. One can appropriately add the more recent quotation from J.C. Juncker “We all know what to do. We just do not know how to get elected after we do it”. (His luck only recently ran out).

Off topic but very relevant this contribution by Colm McCarthy.

I do not think that the content justifies the title and sub-title, these not usually AFAIK not being in the control of the contributor. The article touches on many of the themes that have come up for discussion on this blog. There is, however, a certain confusion at its core in defining the difference between political and administrative responsibility. The current public service management legislation is a major contributor to this unfortunate situation and it cannot be corrected without replacing the legislation. Maybe the pressure of an electorate much more aware of the fact that it is their taxes that are often being squandered will bring this about.

Many of the ideas likely to emerge from discussion during 2014 are bound to repeat what has gone before, notably the Devlin Report which devoted a chapter to distinguishing clearly between policy formulation and it execution. This is an aspect of the problem that simply has to be addressed; “in due course”.

Just change the dramatis personae and the exchanges could be happening today (with considerably less wit!).

The rush for the safety of the big public service tent in the recent crisis has been a sight to behold. Unfortunately, there are financial limits to what it can accommodate and the justification for many being under it is tenuous to non-existent.

@ Paul Quigley

A double negative crept in in error. What I had in mind was the sub-title “Senior civil servants bear much of the responsibility for bad political decisions”.

By definition, under our system, they cannot be held accountable for political decisions, good or bad, nor should they be. What they can be held accountable for is the correct carrying out of the duties assigned to them under the relevant legislation with regard to providing the best quality of policy advice and the management of its implementation, either directly or by way of delegated executive authority, ideally subject to monitoring by dedicated parliamentary committees i.e. the standard arrangement in well-run democracies.

Paul, thanks for your explanation. For me, Local’s very direct implication that if one doesn’t like SF means one doesn’t like Irish people (preferred immigrants) was too much (complete crap). Surprised that you supported that one.

Smacked of what RF referred to re Keith Vaz earlier…but worse.

As I indicated above, I have no problem with acknowledging SF’s advance in the polls. Willing to hold “powder dry” on whether they can fully evolve from armalite & politics to a more coherent and current political basis. It appears that their positioning is naturally inclining to the far left….which is fine…actually there is a real gap on the left in Ireland given Labour’s recent positioning. However, SF is not there yet in my view…..plenty of baggage…..they haven’t worked out much policy yet and will need to move on from Adams and McGuinness in particular. We’ll see.

I understand that in the “real world” academics, teachers, etc get fired, etc….your are talking mainly NA though. The situation in Ireland is far less flexible; far more entrenched. Very difficult as a result for education in Ireland to adapt quickly enough. Plus, reskilling isn’t actually a real Irish Govt priority. You will note on the other thread the large reductions in spending on education and skills, training, etc. Yes, plenty of waffle that new economy reskilling is a priority, but govt in Ireland is in reality relying on the skills’ importation….and is focused on the MNC tax take primarily…..debt service ghas become all consuming, notwithstanding MN’s recent statement that wthey need to keep an eye on wider growth….the clear agenda there is based on giving tax breaks to win the next election…nothing more.

Very low level of political leadership ion Ireland.

@ PQ

“it is clear that vested private ( and public?) interests are ‘winning’ this recovery in Europe and the US.”

It isn’t much of a recovery, in fairness. Or unfairness. Take away asset bubbles and there’s an awful lot of debt compounding away. Only jellyfish had a better CAGR in the recent past.

The top 5% are already creaming far too much and it isn’t ever enough. Look at the latest financial engineering in the UK- privatise the Royal Mail, cut wages, move the business offshore, pay zero tax, pay dividends to shareholders. It didn’t work for Man Utd.

Canada might be the first of the “recovery” property bubbles to pop

From the report:
“On the one hand, at least so far, Ireland has been spared the xenophobic brand of politics currently in the ascendant across much of Europe – Ireland lacks a Front National or a Lega Nord. ”

No need for a FN or Lega Nord in Ireland. The State, with its ‘Direct Provision’ model would give the FN a good run for its money.
Try living for 10 years on €19.10 per week, and €9.60 per child per week, just to experience the xenophobia of the Irish State.

My take on SF is that their support comes from the disenfranchised who plainly see favouritism, nepotism, cronyism being practiced by the two naturally governing parties. SF if elected are more likely to conduct inquisitions into the behaviour of politicians, senior public servants and senior bankers before and after 2008. Local government where SF has a significant presence is also a cesspool that needs investigating. It is not likely that they will set up tribunals where hearings will be held, decisions made and executions quickly carried out. By previous standards it would still be brutal.
The urge to buy votes will still remain strong and that is what will do us in. Coming up to the 2015 election the purse strings will be loosened in an effort to please everybody. The head waiter and the waiters need their gratuities and as always are eager to please. The downside is that now we are on the open market for financing and we could see a spike in interest rates before the election that will result in a downward spiral with serious consequences. Remember that Bertie was being true to his Irishness when he advised any one who doubted the soundness of the Tiger to do themselves in. Our present Taoiseach will be equeally confident and adamant that pleasing the voters and winning the election will be as good for the country as it would be for him.

Knowing SF people and how they think it is evident to me that they too are Irish with a value system that could prove to be as elastic as the incumbents is presently and was in the past. The “little bit for your trouble” and the “little bit for the cause” could also get out of control under a SF government. The first couple of years would be interesting though. At least any political upheaval will not resemble the French revolution.

By the way I am a firm believer in joining a party and attending all meetings. I also make the maximum contribution allowed by law and getting a receipt for it. I also choose a middle of the road party that shows an inclination to govern responsibly.
Party membership in political parties is a tiny fraction of the number of eligible voters and only a small number of those contribute more than the membership fee. As you can see the system is vulnerable to bribery in that the average donation is in the order of Euro 50-60 even though tax deductions (75% returned) can be had to Euro 300-400. I am not familiar with the situation in Ireland other than the brown paper envelope with unmarked bills.

@ paul w and all

Very nice piece of analysis by Justin Smith.
I will try to step through this bog without getting any muddier than necessary..
Can I say firstly that is a good board. John g has many pertinent observations to make about the world of finance and property, so my criticisms are solely related to his Terminator-style posts on socio-political matters.

Pace BWSnr, who doesn’t believe that Ireland was ever a colony, and Richard F, who doesn’t think the concept of colonisation has any relevance in analysing our Irish reality, I think that any analysis which doesn’t focus on our historic inequalities of power and status is going to lead nowhere. Ireland is in crisis.

Justin Smith:
‘Equality is of course one of the virtues on which the French Republic was founded, yet critics of the Enlightenment philosophy behind the Revolution have long noticed a double standard: when equality is invoked, these critics note, it is understood that this is equality among equals. Political and social inequality is allowed to go on as before, as long as it is presumed that this is rooted in a natural inequality‘

The modern (post 16th c) history of our country is one of two polities. We had the included settlers, with political and economic rights/privileges, and the excluded natives, who lacked the necessary legal persona to pursue, as well as the means, to vindicate their rights. These Protestant/Catholic polarities generated the warp and woof of our social, cultural, political, and armed struggles over hundreds of years. The historians debate the points at which the local dynamics converged on or diverged from wider processes within Britain, Europe or the globe, but they will all agree on the depth and complexity of the processes involved. We need to know what we are. Senior civil servants included and especially, because we depend on them to run our state, flawed political governance and all.

I guess, as a non historian, that the ordinary lowland Scots who were brought over to colonise the former lands of the Ulster clan chiefs were not wealthy or well equipped. I have no doubt that their economic contribution was positive and that their Presbyterian work ethic was part of that. The record shows, however, that with some very worthy exceptions, they failed, as so many settlers, including the Anglo Irish gentry, have done, to respect and accommodate the needs and aspirations of the native population. Hence the various bloody rebellions which continued into our own era, and which obliged the former imperial power to re-institute direct rule, and ultimately enforced power sharing in NI.

New migrants can clearly benefit from the improved terms and conditions in their adopted country. They are a boon to native employers/consumers who are seeking to reduce labour/service costs, but they are a natural threat to those native workers who are in unprotected sectors. If we are going the neoliberal route (sorry Richard, don’t know any other word to describe it) toward mobility of capital and labour arbitrage, then we disregard the losers from the process at our peril.

Religion is no longer central to people’s lives. The old unthinking belief in the social order has corroded, and loyalty is conditional these days. There are a lot of ways to drop out without going away.

@ PQ

Yes, the colonial inheritance runs very deep. The Protestants in the north benefited from that free land but a fair few left for America in the early 1700s (and became the rednecks, I understand). Afterwards they did well out of the British empire, but not as well as the Scots, and when the curtain came down on their traditional industries in the latter half of the 20th century they were left floundering, as many loyal subjects were.

John Hewitt’s poem “the Coasters” is really on the money

“And you who seldom had time to read a book,
what with reports and the colour-supplements,
denounced censorship.
And you who never had an adventurous thought
were positive that the church of the other sort
vetoes thought.
And you who simply put up with marriage
for the children’s sake, deplored
the attitude of the other sort
to divorce.
You coasted along.
And all the time, though you never noticed,
The old lies festered;
the ignorant became more thoroughly infected;
there were gains, of course;
you never saw any go barefoot.

The government permanent, sustained
by the regular plebiscites of loyalty.
You always voted but never
put a sticker on your car;
a card in the window
would not have been seen from the street.
Faces changed on posters, names too, often,
but the same families, the same class of people.
A Minister once called you by your first name.
You coasted along
and the sores supperated and spread.

Now the fever is high and raging;
Who would have guessed it, coasting along?
The ignorant-sick thresh about in delirium
And tear at the scabs with dirty finger-nails.
The cloud of infection hangs over the city,
A quick change of wind and it
Might spill over the leafy suburbs.”

But it could just as well be about climate change, really

@ seafoid

It is about climate change.

As Paddy Kavanagh used to say ‘I have my peoples’. John Hewitt has his too.

@PQ and Seafoid
The very significant positive social difference in my view pre and post Celtic Tiger (not Crisis note) is that the Irish no longer feel like 2nd class citizens vis a’ vis the UK, EU or the world…..It turns up as childish self-importance sometimes. However, it has enabled past chipped shoulder baggage to be dropped…..a very good thing overall.

The positive outcome of this is a more “enlightened” and open society, somehow more confident of itself in the middle of all the carnage. Less stuck in the past (as before), more forward looking.

Doesn’t solve all the social and economic woes. However, there has been a qualitative and palpable positive change in Irish social attitudes compared to what went before. Seems to me that, in that context, many in Ireland clearly see the positives that immigration brings….hence you don’t see the cultural and racist type reactions that one is currently seeing in colonist countries like the UK and France……as per J Smith’s article. Ireland has little to lose and much to gain in embracing the wider changes, including evolving migrant patterns, in the world today.

@Mickey @8.54pm
Nice summary. The disenfranchised currently represents a relatively large group (say 15%). However that means that 85% are not SF supporters…..but many are not FG /Labour/FF supporters either…many bemoan the departure of the Troika!

Agree though that buying the election could seriously backfire. Well summarized. It’s beginning to “leak” already, clearly. A bit “drunk” with confidence….”one is not enough; two is enough; three is never enough”….govt politicians are clearly addicted to the Dail Bar……don’t have the discipline not to have “three” and more.

Another way of putting it is that the Irish have achieved equality among equals in J Smith’s terms…..Hence social acceptance for the Irish in the UK and elsewhere (always had it in the US, much to the “surprise” of newly arrived Irish in the past in particular). Methinks the Irish like where this is at (compared to the 2nd class previous self-image), hate when the Irish leave themselves down (in 1st world social equality terms) in San Diego, Australia, etc, and that this development has partly been behind Ireland’s attitude to being the best (debtor) in class!

Social acceptance of immigrants reinforces this “new status”….the immigrants are our Francophiles in mr. smith’s terms….? The more similar the immigrants are to the Irish, the easier it is of course, which is why the Poles and educated immigrants have it easier……not so easy for Romanians (the Bulgarians are “like the Italians”!)….or Travellers for that matter. Ireland and Africans is not quite the same…..not exactly sure….maybe someone can enlighten me here.

Anyway! good for immigrants in Ireland (with the obvious exceptions).

Amazing how central the British attitude to the Irish has been in this transition….we Irish always needed equality recognition from the British in the first instance. Culturally, we have always “needed” British respect, British acknowledgement that we are no longer their serfs……Clearly, NI nationalists /republicans have had a harder time getting out from under that rock.

Interesting too how it has been the British Establishment that has facilitated this…..culminating in Queen Elizabeth’s visit and the “burying of the hatchet”…..

The success and education of Irish emigrants to the UK has also been an integral part of the story. British mams and dads are now very accepting of Irish sons and daughters-in-law. Equality among equals.

Another interesting manifestation has also been the visible uptick in Irish support for greater integration with the UK in these times of economic crisis! Really pisses off dyed-in-the-wool, old fashioned republicans…..surprised that more Locals aren’t already poring into the debate here, in the way that they regularly orchestrate crowd-bullying on Irish newspapers, blogs, etc…….

Finally for now, the other clear manifestation has been in the anger of the Irish via a’ vis Germany…rightly or wrongly. The Irish culturally hate and resent the idea of debt servitude….however, more accepting of the practical help of course! Still, one can take the money and still feel hard done by and resentful. Still, the Germans are not the British…’s not the same thing! Hasn’t quite the same depth as the Ireland /UK equation /history.

In my experience the middle class set the tone of immigrant acceptance, toleration or rejection. The type of immigrant is important for example wetbacks crossing the Rio Grande or heading north from Tijuana are no threat to the American middle class and are a help in that handyman and small construction jobs can get done cheaply and tax free. On the other hand Phds can get very irate about H1B visas for Indians, Russians and Eastern Europeans. Phd work outsourced to Russia and Bulgaria, most of it Dept of Defence contracted to US companies who outsource it makes US Phds. froth at the mouth.

I have noticed that all is well when unemployment is low, traffic is flowing, inflation is reasonable and the immigrants are behaving themselves. When unemployment is high it is because them immigrants are stealing our jobs and our government should not have let them in. Traffic congestion is due to all them immigrants and Seanie cannot afford a house because the immigrants are driving the price up.

There is a concept which I believe is called the social comfort index, made up of the unemployment rate and inflation rate added together. This usually gets trotted out by economists in tough times. When it is high there is usually increasing social unrest which is rightfully the terrain of sociologists.

How well an immigrant fares is largely up to the individual. I never say I am here because your government offered me a job. I say I was lucky to get a job when times were good and this bad spell will soon pass. I have been lucky sixteen times and in some cases there was resentment, jealousy, begrudgery but always of a minor nature. The biggest problems arise in poor countries with high unemployment where you are paid more than five times what the natives make.

The thing to watch after the discomfort index is how hopeful are people that things will improve. Couple a high discomfort index with hopelessness and things can get mean and nasty in a hurry.

As to being alike, in London my uncles told me that as soon as people from the Caribbean and South Asia started to arrive in large numbers the Irish became almost respectable overnight. I believe that explains our acceptance of Eastern Europeans who are quite similar to us culturally and can relate to the British occupation and compare it to their experiences with the Russians, Germans, Austrians, Swedes and yes Poles/Lithuanians and Ottomans.

The word race is overworked in my opinion far more divisive are class, religion, caste, nationalism, language. Look at Slovakia in the twentieth century went from German/Hungarian/Jewish with a small Slovak minority to being 90% Slovak not long after 1945. Bratislava has interesting history a native there told me we are one hour from Vienna and we have everything they have except high prices. They get millions of tourists every year and we get about 10 % of that. She was referring to palaces, orchestras, restaurants, museums, art galleries. All the glory of the 18th century.

Germany and France did all they could for us prior to 1921, we have no reason to be hostile to either one.

@ PQ: Thanks for the update. “Pace BWSnr, who doesn’t believe that Ireland was ever a colony …”

That we were never a British colony is a legal fact. Mind you, we did get a bit of a bashing – austerity Tudor style! But that’s how they did things then. And lots of native folk got their lands sequestered. That’s also how they did things then. Just look what happened to the Scottish crofters when sheep became popular. Still are! Financial Consideration 1: Ordinary Folk 0. Never changes, does it?

We actually had our own parliament until 1801 – surprise, surprise, and Westminster was regularly pi**ed off at what they did in Dublin. Solution: hand out some very, very large brown envelopes, plus 103 elected Westminster MPs. Now would someone remind me how many Westminster MPs were elected in India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc., etc. Like? Zero? Now there’s colonies for ye!

You’re also right about the boggy bit. Park this ‘colony’ stuff and try to pin the critique where it rightly belongs – on Us Ourselves – us Irish who remained, especially those with the political power. And just try to remember that Ireland, as part of the U Kingdom, benefited immediately and directly from all the ‘reform’ legislations passed in Westminster from 1820 thru 1918. Tad inconvenient for that.

Joe Lee has covered our 1912-1985 period. Bit inconvenient it is too. So we could start at 1986 to look for the genesis of our contemporary difficulties? A full-length mirror should suffice: its Us Ourselves! Tad inconvenient that. Look at the stream of complaints on this site alone.

Try to file-away this ‘colony’ nonsense. It is indeed like wading, in circles, in a boggy bog. You could also liken it to a baby’s Blankie: comforting psychological dependency. Albert Hirschman Futility Utd 1: Celitc Progress Athletic 0. Its not Full Time – yet! Or should we ask who is paying the Ref’s salary – 😎

Surprised but I agree with a lot of your latest posts. Living in England in the 1970s most English people considered the Irish to be sort of funny/odd and uneducated. We were the subject of a lot of Irish jokes which have all but disappeared. There is a totally different attitude now. Equally the young Irish people today do not have the inferiority complex which existed then. I suspect the reasons for these changes are complex but the young Irish expect to be successful in what they do and equally the English are very familiar with successful Irish people in many spheres and of course we speak English.

Perhaps immigration will increase the number of taxpayers in the country, so spreading the burden of this massive internal devaluation and national debt.

As mentioned above interest is growing in increased integration with Britain. We surely learned the hard way that the power imbalance was abused. We must also know that we have to avoid getting ourselves beholden to any single country.

We always wanted a level playing field, we got it in the EU which is ideally suited to all the small countries in Europe. We were dependent on the US and Britain to keep the Punt stable, the EZ solved that problem. We are now in the place that we have long dreamed of a 400 million barrier free market and a stable currency. The ECB are spoon feeding us with low interest rate funds. We have died and woken up in heaven.

Our major problem is our inability to govern ourselves responsibly. The solution to that is totally within our control.

Wolfgang Scheida, an ethnic German immigrant who grew up in Romania and is now an editor with ‘Welt am Sonntag,’ the conservative German Sunday paper, said in last Sunday’s edition:

“When the ethnic German immigrants from Romania came to Germany in the 1990s – including myself, they received a warm welcome – also because of election strategies, without doubt. Many ‘immigrated’ initially in the social welfare system, but as time passed they managed to become independent and earn a living for themselves. Many took advantage of the opportunity to have a better life.

We worked hard, attended language courses, studied, integrated. … There are few things as painful as being part of a family but always having to eat at the side table. This is how we ‘Romanians and Bulgarians’ feel.

We may belong to the EU and people want to do business with us, but as soon as we want to move around Europe freely and work where we please people start screaming blue murder. And yes, some won’t want to work, just as some Germans don’t want to work. We should put up with them. The country won’t collapse because of this.”

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