Thursday, 24 July 2008

Gaelscoileanna, Gaelscoils - no "foreigners"?

An article in the local rag came to Gombeen Man’s attention the other day. It reported on a campaign to set up a Gaelscoil (Irish language or Gaelic school) in nearby Tyrrelstown, one of Dublin’s new building boom suburbs.

According to the report, the local populace turned out in their thousands, clamouring for a Gaelscoil in the area. And no, it wasn’t just Irish language enthusiasts and Shinners, according to the piece, the parents of immigrant children were there too.

Sorry, Gombeen Man has no polite way of saying this, but - “bollocks!!!”

Let me give you some background on Tyrrelstown, as many will only know it as a name on the map. Like many parts of west Dublin, Tyrrelstown was only a townland until a few years ago. In a short time, however, a very sizable high-density urban settlement just shot up. Like many such developments, however, the housing went up with scant regard for infrastructural needs, and everything else - from schooling to transport to safe roads to walk on – was an afterthought.

Gombeen Man does not know what the exact population count is in Tyrrelstown, nor does he know the breakdown of indigenous and immigrant people, but confidently assumes that there is a high proportion of children who are - or whose parents are - immigrants. Many of these children, or their parents, will not be native English speakers – so one would have thought it imperative to school them in an environment where they can get up to speed in the spoken language of our country – English – as soon as possible.

Why, then, put a Gaelscoil in this area? Where is the “demand” coming from? The answer, I believe, is that the well-organised Gaelscoil movement is cynically exploiting the dire need for schools, of any sort, in Dublins burgeoning suburbs, to push its own ideological agenda. Gaelic speaking schools – many of which see the teaching of English in any form as an ideological intrusion – are the very last type of schools needed in places such as Tyrrelstown, in my opinion. Anyone unhindered by a purely linguistic agenda can see that the best, most inclusive schools, are ones that teach in the spoken medium of our country which is – I’ll say it again – English. This applies, by the way, whether Irish or "foreign" pupils are at issue.

Another possible reason for the “surge” in popularity of Irish speaking schools – though few will admit it, is racism. Why should there be a “demand” in a working-class area for a type of schooling, that by its very nature, will limit the number of immigrant children on its books? Go on, you are allowed to think the obvious here. The simple answer is that some of the clamour is from Irish parents who feel that their children will be less exposed to foreigners in such an environment - certainly if the following extract from a Sunday Business Post article on Gaelscoileanna, by Nadine O’Regan, that appeared in April of last year is to be believed.

One Dublin parent - we’ll call her Emily, although she wasn’t prepared to give her real name - has told The Sunday Business Post that the local gaelscoil is one she would be happy to have her son attend.

Emily likes this school not just because it’s in a good area. Not just because it gets good results.

And not just because it’s a gaelscoil. No. The reason she would be happy to have her son here is much simpler: at this school, she pointed out, “[her] child wouldn’t have to mix with ‘blacks’.”

For Pat, a former Dublin school principal who also insisted on anonymity, this kind of prejudice is not unfamiliar.

‘‘Parents’ perception would be that gaelscoileanna don’t have a high profile in terms of special learning needs or non-Irish nationals or Traveller enrolment,” he claims.

‘‘So for some parents the perception is that the gaelscoil is a better place for their child.”

No doubt there will be Irish language enthusiasts who will respond by saying “I know the child of an immigrant family that goes to my Oisin’s Gaelscoil”, and all the rest, but these exceptions are not the rule. So, if we discount the usual suspects - middle class parents looking at the increased points potential for doing subjects through Irish, Irish Language enthusiasts, and Shinners - where has this “enthusiasm” come from in relatively deprived working-class areas? Why?

The possible answer, and I’ll spell it out (as Bearla) is R-A-C-I-S-M.

There is a societal shift taking place in Ireland now, and this is the shape of the future. Gaelic has been used since the State's inception to exclude hundreds of thousands of ordinary Irish people from further education and career choices (as part of its warped promotion) and will be used to exclude foreign nationals to an even greater extent in the future.

See the links below:

Disgusting Irish racist site

See also:

Irish Nationalism and Fascism (Gombeen Nation article)

Back to Gombeen Nation mainpage

Monday, 21 July 2008

U2 cover all the spectrums of pop star vanity

Pub tribute band, wedding band, showband, indie band, stadium rock megagroup. It matters not -at whatever level, you’re bound to find all the spectrums of vanity, egotism, conceit and folly in the world of rock’n’roll.

All of the character types are plentiful; in life as in art, in fiction as in fact. Whether it’s the shifty male singer trying to shag the female vocalist(s); the misogynistic hard-rock guitarist whose instrument is an extended phallus; the knuckle-dragging drummer who fulfills all the dumb stereotypes; the pre-Madonna singer with a surfeit of confidence; the acrimony, the plotting, the intrigue, the dishonesty, the theft of ideas or merchandise - the vivacious appetite of the rock’n’roll animal knows no bounds. Unless, that is, you are a certain Dublin 80s band who've outstayed their welcome - namely U2 - in which case none of the above nihilism applies, as property development is more likely to be your idea of rock and roll excess! Man.

Bono and the Edge have been given permission to go ahead with the transformation of the Clarence Hotel by An Bord Plenala (The Planning Board). Various heritage groups had opposed the plan on the grounds that it was not in keeping with the area’s character, citing the destruction of most of the art deco hotel and surrounding buildings. In tandem with the proposed U2 tower - which will dominate Dublin’s docklands if, erm, erected - it will allow Ireland’s best-known tax-shy celebs to leave a real mark on their city for posterity.

Gombeen Man has some respect for Bob Geldof, who at least lives in the UK and pays his taxes like everyone else. He could easily have bolted back to our banana republic to reduce that liability, along with many of the ‘artistes’ – native and otherwise – who came here for that precise benefit. He didn’t though. So we'll allow him to harangue us about Africa, seeing as some of his money is in the pot he wants to share out.

U2, however, famously took their commercial operation to Holland after the belated capping of the Republic’s artists’ exemption tax. Up until then, mega-millionaires such as U2 did not pay a penny tax on royalties, despite all their talk of using other people’s tax payments to eradicate poverty. Even now, the “artists” exemption is still generous.

But in the world of rock and roll, it seems you can be as hypocritical as you like, and nobody will ask any questions. U2 had better be careful though - a proposal put forward by the National Economic and Social Council has recommended the Government introduce a tax on properties. The boys could yet be hit with a tax bill, given their penchant for bricks and mortar, if the NESC finds what its looking for.

But as Bob Geldof himself might say: "It's not enough".

See also: Is Bono a hypocrite?

Back to Gombeen Nation mainpage

Friday, 18 July 2008

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Irish nationalism and fascism

Gombeen Man spent some years living amid the Sassenachs during the 80s and 90s. Economic migration was something that we Irish did back then, out of a desire to improve our lot - or, indeed, through outright necessity.

Sometimes, I look at the “Polish Scum out” and “Niggers Out” graffiti in and around my locality and am reminded of those long-gone days in London, when British National Party / National Front fascists referred to the Irish as “bog-wogs” who came to take the jobs of the indigenous. Even the work-shy.

Which makes me ponder the subject of Irish nationalism. There are some who maintain that there can’t be an Irish form of fascism due to Ireland’s colonial past. Indeed, in the North, the murder gangs of the UDA, the UVF and the LVF had links with British far-right parties (scumbag Johnny Adair being an example). But is this surprising, given that loyalism was a local form of supremacist British nationalism?

Does it automatically follow then, that - leaving aside the issue of methods - the cause of Irish Republicanism was a progressive one? Many people were drawn into Republicanism because of discrimination and a desire for social justice (Derry had a nationalist majority, for instance, but thanks to gerrymandering had a unionist council). Catholics found it hard to get work and housing, civil rights activists were attacked by the police. Even Trimble admitted that Northern Ireland was a “cold house” for Catholics.

What about the Republic, though? Is the narrow, exclusive, conservative Irish nationalism found here any better informed than that of the NF and the BNP? Is the motivating “philosophy” not much the same? If not, what progressive qualities does it possess over its British counterpart? After all, both concur on an exaggerated sense of worth and allegiance to the nation. Both share a narrow definition of what constitutes truly belonging to that entity, in terms of bloodline or culture. Both are socially conservative – Sinn Fein’s coyness on full abortion rights being an example.

The acid test in both countries then, is how those of a nationalist persuasion treat foreigners. In Britain, which has had net migration for decades - the Irish being particularly well represented – the NF came to prominence in the 70s. Ireland, however, has only recently switched from being a country of net emigration to one of net migration. So, it could be said that the more disagreeable aspects of nationalism here have yet to surface - but there is evidence that this is happening.

During Lisbon, for instance, some group with a Gaelic name campaigned on a platform of “keeping Ireland Irish”. In working class areas the “no” vote had an anti-foreigner element. Even laughable groups who consider themselves left-wing such as Eireugli (something like that – they have a green star as a logo rather than a red one) have protested outside Croke Park against “foreign games” taking place in that taxpayer-funded citadel (one famously wearing a Celtic shirt while doing so).

Crucially, younger people’s nationalism is unhindered by any desire for justice and equality that existed during the Northern conflict – they are simply unabashed anti-foreigner, little Irelander, nationalists. If you won’t listen to me, see this link, with its good Gaelic name: Craobhgalgreine
Watch out for more of this “type of thing” as the recession bites, and the Celtic Brats become more vocal and less inhibited as they seek someone else to blame.

You’ll see that narrow nationalism is much the same, wherever it exists.

Back to Gombeen Nation mainpage

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Small Firms Association seeks cut in minimum wage

Small firms want to pay their workers SFA

It seems that the Irish Small Firms Association (SFA) has called for a one Euro cut in the current minimum wage of EUR 8.65 an hour. Apparently the present rate is "symptomatic" of "Ireland's high-cost, uncompetitive economy", according to that body.

Funny. Are these the same small firms that have been robbing us blind all through the boom years, with their rip-off prices and take-it-or-leave it service? And in a country where the State gives numerous tax breaks and support to Irish business? And in a country where the overwhelming tax take comes from the PAYE sector?

First rule of capitalism... have a viable idea. If you can't pay the wages, you don't have one, and shouldn't be in business anyway.

Back to Gombeen Nation mainpage

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Tax incentives for Irish speakers

Tax receipts are in freefall, mainly thanks to the property market being on an even steeper downward trajectory. The Celtic Cubs have bitten the EU hand that’s been feeding their fat, crabby faces. It’s not looking rosy, is it?

As Gombeen Man has pointed out, property was overpriced due to low interest rates, cheap credit (including interest-only mortgages) and inflationary Government tax shelters for investors. One would have thought that tax shelters and incentives would be taboo now, given the return of economic reality. But not so.

Now Irish speakers want to be exempted from income tax. Udaras na Gaeltachta - the body charged with 'promoting' the Gaeltacht - has submitted a plan to the authorities for the Gaelic-speaking inhabitants of west coast islands to be made exempt from income tax. Assuming they pay any in the first place, of course.

The body claims that major incentives are needed to keep the populace fleeing to the mainland and beyond due to grinding poverty and lack of job opportunities. It's like Flann O'Brien's An Beal Bocht all over again: incessant whingeing and putting on the "poor mouth”.

And you might well feel sympathy for the hard-done-by peasantry out on their rocks in the Atlantic, keeping Official Ireland’s make-believe culture going despite their hardships. If you are gullible, that is.

So, what do they want by way of tax incentive? That individual residents can earn up to EUR 100,000 before paying income tax, of course.

Well, they do say that poverty is relative.

Back to Gombeen Nation mainpage

Saturday, 5 July 2008

VRT "Green Tax" deadline rush

Apparently, there was a sudden rush to buy upmarket cars in the week before the supposedly "green" changes to the criminal, Irish government double-tax known as VRT (Vehicle Registration Tax). Which, by the way, is vigorously defended by our self-styled "free-market" Commissioner Charlie McCreevy. (Plenty more on this laughable shyster on these pages.)

It would seem that the "wealth creators" - they are defined as such by those with a penchant for simplistic right-wing economic theory - didn't realise until a few days before the changes that they were about to occur.

But then again, Gombeen Man has always had a cynical view of our far-from-dynamic business class, and those who have become rich by sitting on their arses in their overpriced houses, using existing capital and tax shelters to inflate the market, and receiving inheritances from their deceased parents' resultant inflated properties.

Bitter? Who? Me? Not at all. I Just wish they'd appreciate their wealth for what it is - good fortune, and not the result of any innate enterprise.

Q. What do you call an Irish entrepeneur?
A. A publican.

While the Yanks produce the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, we've got Dan Lowry and Scruffy Murphy.

VRT, McCreevy, Lisbon and the "no" vote

Back to Gombeen Nation mainpage