Thursday, February 02, 2006

We've got some nerve!

Two aspects of the Irish mentality have always fascinated me – Our anarchic desire to beat the system and our overwhelming need to be loved by other nations.

If anti-establishment was an Olympic event, we’d be swimming in gold medals. Remember we’re the nation that bankrupted our neighbour’s national health service with our fraudulent occupational incapacitation claims. We drove the Germans to introduce a new currency because of our habit of fooling their vending machines with our lower value Irish coins. We invented guerrilla warfare, boycotting and subverting the English language.

No nation pays more attention to where we are on international lists of the best places to live, the friendliest peoples, ideal location for stag & hen parties, quality of life index, etc that ourselves. Maybe it is because our nearest neighbour seemed for so many years trying to be the least love the world over?

It is in this context that I fail to be impressed by the recent hand-ringing over how Polish people working in Ireland might get their hands on our social welfare allowances (and specifically the grant to parents of children under the age of six to off-set soaring child care costs). You can argue about the economic strategy and if other more direct ways of supporting working parents in Ireland may be more sensible. You can argue that (like the medical cards to all peoples over the age of seventy) the scheme might cost a lot more than we’d bargained for. But do not complain because of the prospect that someone who has had to leave his/her homeland to work in Ireland might “benefit” because they couldn’t afford to bring their child with them. That’s just ignorant and racist and I don’t care how much people protest their true intentions.

It set me thinking (“ogh no”, I hear you groan!). What if we Irish went out Asia and adopted a whole clatter of orphaned children? Of course we’d leave them behind in their squalor and claim the child support grant. If we had any pangs of guilt, we could contribute the couple of euro per month it costs for crèches in Indonesia or the Ukraine but we’d still be quids in. And once they’d reached the age of 6 we could leave the back in the orphanage and claim that we never really bonded with the child leaving us free to start all over again.

This way, we’d win so much international kudos for being a kind and generous nation who put children adoption first. We might even become the No.1 nation for the number of children fostered per capita. And in the process we could wreck the grant system much more impressively than those pathetic hard working Poles.


Blogger Fi said...

Hey there! Flying visit! I've had to change my url for technical reasons! It's now if you want to keep in touch!

8:22 p.m., February 02, 2006  
Blogger JL Pagano said...

This issue highlighted the absolutely awful PR advise taken (or possibly not ever even sought) by our leading politicians. The government made a balls of announcing it, the opposition made a balls of rebuking it.

9:54 a.m., February 03, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

JL, couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, both leave another urban myth behind for racists to latch on to.

2:23 p.m., February 03, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

I went to England in 1975. I signed on and got the dole straightaway. My flat was paid for for 4 weeks, while I was waiting to start work. I bet many other Irish people took advantage of the UK welfare system.

You are so right about Fine Gael raising this 'concern' about the level of payments that the government might not have budgetted for. Of course, they can deny that they meant anything other than holding the government to account.

At least most people can see that having migrant workers here is an essential element of national prosperity.

9:51 a.m., February 06, 2006  

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