Sunday, 7 September 2014


Many people try to camouflage their racism by prefixing it with the word ‘casual’, but some words just do not belong together. ‘Casual racism’ is as mismatched a combination as ‘accidental starvation’ or ‘inadvertent massacre.’

Trouble is, we’re all casual about racism, in different ways. There are so many strains of racism manifesting themselves at the moment, it seems natural, almost human, to want to gauge it; measure it; describe this kind of racism as different to that one. Yet there is no such thing as racism-lite.

I’d been planning to write a piece about refugees seeking asylum in Ireland. A group who arrived in 2000 were assigned to a privately-run Direct Provision centre in Salthill. They arrived here looking for freedom, safety, dignity and a chance to build a life, the same basic human rights that the Irish have sought and gained all over the world.

Upon arrival they were told that their applications would be processed in 6 months, so I very much doubt they thought they’d still be there 14 years later, having raised nearly an entire generation on €19 a week per adult. Families are forced to eat food that appears to them unhealthy and foreign, while being denied the basic human right to cook for their children.

Then something wonderful happened. Instead of having to wag my scribbling finger in an unattractive way, the plight of refugees in Ireland became news. Having woken up to the injustice being perpetrated, the Irish are marching on the streets to protest.

For too long I feared I’d have to watch a Prime Time Special at some indeterminate time in the future, wherein the shameful plight of these people would be revealed, offering Ireland another opportunity to self-flagellate on a national scale, muttering about how this could have been possible, this awful terrible tragic way of running things.

No offence, but ye lads are great at that. Yet it didn’t happen because people like me and former Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness, who predicted that a future government would end up apologising for the damage done by the current system, were wrong.

Ireland’s on the case, but it took a while. Our ‘casual’ racism of turning our collective heads for years, allowing such a regime to survive, is no longer acceptable to the Irish. We all agree that private companies running holding pens for humans is not the way to go. 

Yahoo! The times they are a-chaaang-in’ and all that.
But oops - what’s this?
Oh no.

My chin drops through the floor, closely followed by my morale. Last week Declan Tierney wrote in this noble rag about Councillor Michael Fahy’s wish that when they finally build the Gort to Tuam motorway, the 500 construction jobs won’t go to ‘foreigners’.

Oh. Oh my god. So sad.
You might think it was enough for him to blast the basic tenets of the EU to smithereens, while leaving all vestige of civilised human decency dead on the floor, but Fahy wasn’t done until he used every 1970s racist cliché in the book.
He had nothing against people from northern Europe.
“The point I am making is that they should go home and try and get jobs in their own countries."
Just when I thought it could get no worse, Tierney reported that the Councillor’s arguments weren’t even based around economics. 
“It is 26 years since we won an All-Ireland hurling title and the main reason is that some of our best hurlers and workers are living abroad!” said Cllr. Michael Fahy.
“Hurling!” I shriek out loud with disbelief.
“I told you Charlie, return of the Gaels...” whispers my friend Whispering Blue in response from his armchair across the room.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties decline to make any comment. This colyoom is however willing to speak out against such vile bilge, because I know that somewhere there’s a bloke standing up for casual racism.
“Ah sure, what would this English bollox know? Yer man, he was only talkin’ about da hurling.”
How can we pretend to be getting to grips with the ills of society when it is still acceptable for our elected representatives to sound like the redneck forces of Ferguson, Missouri?
There always has been something casually racist about US society. Although poverty itself creates ghettos of ethnic minorities, nowhere else have I seen anything like the urban social housing complexes known in America as the Projects. Almost entirely black, they are ersatz open prisons for those that US society expects to become criminals. African Americans make up nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million people in jail in the USA, six times the rate of white prisoners.
Just another statistic that we’ve all become used to; become causal about.
Casual racism thrives in England, where ex-Premier League manager Malky Mackay was about to sign a contract with Crystal Palace when the club suddenly rejected the deal. Mackay been sending racist texts. Hardly surprising, given the casually accepted status quo in the English Football League, where nearly a quarter of all its players are black, yet 98% of the managers are white.
Nothing about racism is ever casual. The only casual thing is our attitude to the plight of others. We need to be asking now why it takes so many years to process the applications of those seeking asylum here.

As a people who have suffered so greatly over the centuries I am saddened and shocked that the Irish have up to now appeared so casual about withholding basic human rights from others.

Your politicians plead with US Congress to allow an amnesty to long-term Irish illegals living and working in America, yet here in Ireland refugee families share a room for 14 years, cannot send their children to 3rd Level Education and cannot cook their own rice.

Time to stop being so causal about human rights. Time to start seeking justice for those on these shores.

©Charlie Adley

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