Polish Radio reports on racialist/sectarian attacks

Polish Radio reports on a campaign against migrant workers living on the Donegall Road. The report cites anti social behaviour, but speculates the real reason may be their religion. The protest took place last week, the day after three houses of migrant workers were attacked.

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  • briso

    It took an external media organisation to say the apparently unsayable. The business on the Donegall Rd might have to do with Taigs moving in. The Poles might be the thin end of the wedge. If you get 50, 100, 150 Catholic poles in an area, the local Catholics might move in amongst them. Isn’t this a possible explanation?

    I don’t know about the Dungannon situation with the Portuguese, but maybe this is similar? Perhaps someone with more knowledge of both areas might like to comment.

  • I’m ashamed to say it but it sounds like a highly plausible explanation, especially given the previous incident at the Sandy Row end of Donegall Road.

    These muppets are obviously to stupid to realise that with the number of migrants coming into Northern Ireland, their time would be better spent befriending them than hounding them out.

    I’m sure I’m being entirely optimistic and naive, but couldn’t the Ulster Unionists demonstrate their commitment to community relations and ethnic minorities by stepping in to mediate here?

  • jamboni

    If new people move into any “ghetto” and they are different, eg. colour/race/creed some local inhabitants of the narrow-mind variety may take offence of the type – they are taking our jobs/houses/women. Does everything have to be sectarian alone ?

  • Crataegus

    Religion is probably part of it, but also remember the experience of the Chinese Community. There appears to be an element that are xenophobic racists.

    I do wish our politicians would stop making excuses for their behaviour and simply condemn totally unacceptable attitudes and conduct. In fact I would like to see them do a lot more than simply condemn, I would like to see them set an example by helping prevent these racist attacks and demanding that the PSNI take action against the perpetrators of the violence. In this society we must stop excusing the totally inexcusable. If people cannot behave then they belong behind bars.

  • elfinto

    Loyalists should take the long-view on this. Italian Catholics came here in the early 1900s. Maybe in 50 years time there will be high ranking IRA informers with names like Wojtec or Karol.

  • Yokel

    Jamboni

    Spot on, any difference will do for some..I can tell you now I’ve heard the fenian phrase used, Russians, Commies, take our jobs & houses (from an unemployed man for umm at least 5 years…)and frankly its a classic case of ‘we are at the bottom of the pile lets make ourseles think we are powerful by intimidating someone.

    Ethnic minorities have been subject to intimidatory behavior on both sides our poitical fence because they are different. On top of the above comments, I’ve see Filipino workers in west belfast (republican part) being stoned by kids as they rode past on their bicycles. I know of a black man working in the Royal Hospital who got abuse waiting for the bus on the Grovesnor Road.

    What you have is weak people trying to feel on top so they create and pick on anyone who is vulnerable. If it wasn’t religion it’d be color or looks, or the fact that some foriegn workers may have an interesting taste in clothes marking them out.

  • Fraggle

    Yokel, stop the simple-minded whataboutery.

    You’re trying to balance real documented abuse with two unsubstantiated anecdotes.

  • 9countyprovence

    I would not deny that this kind of issue occurs amounst the Catholic community too, as it certainly occurs in places in the ROI, and that’s without all the extra tensions which exist across the border. Lets not make this a football game and just accept that this is a problem for everyone on this island and all us sane right-thinking folk need to do what we can to combat it.

  • jamboni

    9cp,
    I totally agree.

  • Yokel

    Oh one did sting thsi morning…I saw it and I come from West Belfast, doesn’t what i see count?

    Abuse of economic migrants has come from both sides of the divide here, fact. What you can’t hack is that someone had the temerity to raise it as happening on ‘your’ side because all you want to do is have at the ‘other’ side. I’ve made it clear it happens on both, I’ve seen it from both sides, heard it from both and I’ve posted about BOTH. Now wind yer neck in and face it, if you can prove to me that it only happens on one side fine…now go ahead and tell me what I’ve seen isn’t true. I’ll be waiting.

  • briso

    9countyprovence wrote:
    >accept that this is a problem for everyone

    I do. In fact, I was always puzzled by this thing about there apparently being more incidents in loyalist areas because I simply don’t buy the “We’re inherently less racist” argument sometimes put forward in Nationalist areas. I suspect IF there is an actual greater tendancy to this kind of attack in loyalist areas, it might be linked to religion. Whether that is more or less depressing I’ll leave!

  • Yokel

    Of course I dont believe anything you’ve ever seen because I wasnt there either….so sorry Fraggle you are a liar before you start because if it doesn’t suit my way of thinking well then you must be a liar..obviously… ..thats your logic anyway so why bother posting

  • Yokel

    Briso. read my explanation above for why this behavior happens and take it as a possible instead of people reverting t saying that its simply fuelled by sectarianism..my point is that sectarianism is used as an excuse by weak people who will always seek find an excuse to justify their behaviour just as race can be used or economic threat can be used..since no one has challenged this proposition do I assume its accepted? Or have I forgotten the nature of much of this forum, i.e. if it doesn’t have Hun or Taig tagged on it lots of people don’t know what to do…land of robots…

  • briso

    > since no one has challenged this proposition
    > do I assume its accepted?

    Well it is by me!! The thing is though, I start this particular thread from the point at which you stop. Accepting your explanation for racism completely, lets address what is being suggested by the Polish article, namely that the attacks on Poles are partly driven by the fact that they are Catholics in a strongly loyalist area.

    Are you saying you don’t believe this plays a role? I have heard of all sorts of racism before but I’ve never come across attacks on white european immigrants by other white europeans in England. I’m still not convinced there isn’t something else going on here, whether thats a depressing return to the same old story or not.

  • Mick Fealty

    One. As I say in my intro, Radio Polonia are speculating that the reason could be religious. In fact I had considered referencing attacks on Africans and Chinese people in the Village and Donegall Pass, to hint at the fact this may be just the kind of reaction that Jamboni is suggesting it is: fear of outsiders.

    A word of warning on attacking the bona fides of other commentators.

    Back in February 2004 we had one commenter mention that there was pressure being applied to local landlords not to give houses to foreigners. This was pooh poohed as unsubstantiated rumour. That was on the Tuesday. By Thursday lunch time it made UTV and BBC lunchtime news and the front page of the Guardian by Saturday morning.

    To the credit of one contributor in particular some humble pie was voluntarily consumed. Just because it’s not being report, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. As I recall, one Sinn Fein politician at the time reminded people that Nationalist areas in Belfast don’t have the same degree of ethnic mixing as south Belfast, and that people should avoid jumping to lazy conclusions about such issues.

  • Fraggle

    I don’t know where to begin. I’ve been called a liar for something Yokel thinks I was going to say.

    How can one argue with that kind of logic?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    I was that humble pie eater, thanks for reminding me Mick.

  • GrassyNoel

    Yes let’s all be open-minded and fair about this. I’m sure it had nothing to do with religion, yes in fact weren’t Poland in Northern Ireland’s group in the World Cup Qualifiers? Yeah that must be it.

    Come off it, people. I’m not suggesting for one second that nationalist areas are/would be free of racism, and yes there is plenty of racism down here in the south, but why try to deflect attention away from the story if you’re going to bother discussing it in the first place?

    I seem to recall an exchange between a couple of posters on a similar thread last week (to do with the same ‘protests’) and one poster was challenged as to exactly what anti-social behaviour by the Polish immigrants was being protested against. The poster (who was, obviously, arguing a point on behalf of the protesters) responded that gangs of Polish immigrants had been loud, drunk and aggressive, or something to that effect, and that locals had been ‘intimidated’ by these marauding gangs of Polish immigrants. Now I’m sure I’ll be rounded on and abused from a great height for suggesting this, but even without being given quoted so-called ‘evidence’ of such intimidation (perhaps someone will be on here shortly claiming to have gained access to the very PSNI investigation files containing the reports of such intimidation) I am prepared to dismiss those claims right now as utter horseshit.

    So let me get this straight…a few Polish immigrants move into a predominantly Loyalist area of Belfast and start wandering the streets drunk at night, harassing and intimidating the locals, thereby ‘deserving’ to be attacked with hammers. Yeah right. How very convenient.

    Like I said lads, nobody should try and claim that this could never happen in a nationalist area and expect to be given the slightest bit of credibility. But if you’re going to highlight and discuss a localised story like this, then at least try to be honest about what is happening. Polish and Portuguese immigrants who have and are being attacked whilst living in Loyalist areas are being attacked because they are, or are perceived to be, Catholic. It’s that simple, unfortunately, despite the attempts to counter-spin the reporting of such incidents with ‘community protests’.

    Sure wasn’t Holycross just a bit of aul’ friendly community protesting as well?

    GrassyNoel

  • Yokel

    Briso..sectarianism..yes its used as an excuse by those who attack the migrants as I pointed out I’ve heard the Eastern Europeans called fenians and I’ve posted such. It’s a useful additional tick in a reason to hate box because these people who do the attacking hate fenians as daily part of their life but they’d find another reason alright if that one didnt exist. But then again, I think sectarianism has been an excuse for people for centuries in this country, not a reason, so maybe I’m approaching it from an individual angle.

    The core issue behind those ‘justifications’ is that those attacking the migrants are essentially weak people who are at the bottom of the pile. They know they are the bottom of the pile and they hate it. And like many bottom of the pile types they seek to attack anyone they can blame, any bogey man. They also attack because it makes them feel as if there is someone smaller than they are and it makes them feel big. This will always be so until they are re-educated or, more likely, just dealt with. It happens all over the world, we just have an interesting dimension here to bring into play. How many of those doing the attacking do you think have day jobs..how many would take the jobs that the Eastern Europeans are filling? Yet ‘I’ve heard the bastards are theiving jobs’ line. Another excuse…

    Chinese/Cantonese people have been attacked in and around the Donegall Pass area, are they all Catholic? Protestant black men get attacked by other Protestants? Whats the excuse then? What about a family attacked in a part of Belfast because one of their number had AIDS?

    I’ve been bricked in West Belfast because sometimes apparenlty I was an Orange bastard and other occasions because I was apparently a fenian bastard.

    Two such incidents happened on a road no more than a few hundred yards apart. I was on one side of the road at one time and on the other side at another other time. Ok we can suggest that they are isolated bad people but where do they learn it from, what wider society do they live in that protects or tolerates it?

    Fraggle, you got my point nicely…if what I’ve seem with my eyes is essentially dismissed by yourself then its fair for me to in return think anything you see or know is also worth nothing either and hence a short step to being a lie. And as you say you can’t argue with that type of person with that type of logic…

  • GrassyNoel

    …I also note that the introductory paragraph to this thread says: “The protest took place last week, THE DAY AFTER three houses of migrant workers were attacked”, i.e. it was organised with considerable haste when local politicians and activists heard about the attacks the previous night and realised the potential PR damage which might ensue.

  • Dort Person

    As John Wayne once said in a movie: “Racism is hating in the plural.” What will those who attack Filipina nurses, Nigerian doctors and Polish plumbers do when there are ten times as many immigrants in Northern Ireland as there are now? I remember some months ago that Gerry Adams held a meeting to welcome those valuable workers and condemned attacks on them. Why don’t Unionist political leaders do the same. It probably wouldn’t have much impact on the shit4brains types who are carrying out those attacks, but it might prevent their hateful ideas from spreading.

  • Yokel

    Dort

    Cos they are thick?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dort: “Gerry Adams held a meeting to welcome those valuable workers and condemned attacks on them. Why don’t Unionist political leaders do the same.”

    Not to disagree with Yokel, it because the Unionists / Protestants have made their “purity” a long-stanging part of their political and religion ideology. I quoted an article from the BBC not that long ago dealing with the attitudes and views of the Presbyterians what colonized Northern Ireland and the first response was, essentially they hadn’t known Big Ian was quite *THAT* old. The internal and external currency of Unionist politics is fear — internal fear of what will happen to them should the “papists” ever get the upper hand and making sure, externally, other groups fear them. If they are going to assault people over little differences in religion and politics, surely their reaction to folks with greater differences — skin, language, etc., is not going to be greatly different.

  • Yokel

    Fear..bogeymen..same thing…

    I don’t understand how a block with a voting majority in free and fair elecetions can be so bloody weak and poor in their approach…Never mind the oppisitons apprent this and that, what about yer strength at the ballot box

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Come to think of it, Yokel, it took me a paragraph to say what you said in four words…

  • Yokel

    Aye well the wife is home so I’ve switched from long to short ways to make a point…its an instinctive shift.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    Has anyone gone to Ian Paisley’s web page at

    http://www.ianpaisley.org/main.asp

    where there is his picture and the main topic…
    “5 reasons why Catholic is not Christian”

    Ian paisley is the leader of the DUP…and he is known for:

    l. organizing a protest in 1963 when the brit flag was lowered to half staff in Belfast City hall in mourning after the death of Pope John XXIII.

    2. interrupting Pope John Paul II as the Polish Pope addressed the EU parliament. Paisley unfurled a red placard that read, “Pope John Paul II Anti-Christ”

    Because Pope John Paul II was Polish and the world over equates the Poles as Catholics and just having a Polish Pope…to me, I’m not at all surprised the Poles are being harrassed in the protestant sections of northernn Ireland. The protestants are preached by their ministers (paisley) that Catholis are not Christans and you have the political man who ‘s party received the most votes in the north of Ireland (paisly) stating in the EU parliment that the Polish Pope was the Anti-Christ. Yep…no surpise to me that the Poles are targetted.

    Funny, how paisly and his followers are allowed to get away with such hate speach….

    I’m glad the polish press reported it…the more that know that paisley and his DUP are antiCatholic big ots….the better.

  • Brian Boru

    This is really going to make Eastern Europeans want to stay in the Union. Oh yes.

    “I would not deny that this kind of issue occurs amounst the Catholic community too, as it certainly occurs in places in the ROI, and that’s without all the extra tensions which exist across the border. Lets not make this a football game and just accept that this is a problem for everyone on this island and all us sane right-thinking folk need to do what we can to combat it.”

    I doesn’t occur in the Republic.

  • Mustapha Mond

    Which Republic?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    MM: “Which Republic? ”

    Brian Boru is under the somewhat optimistic belief that human nature, or at least the darker side of it, doesn’m manifest itself in the Republic of Ireland. In the broadest of terms, he may be right, but, like everywhere else, there has got to be at least a few pinheads that spoil the show in there somewhere.

  • Mustapha Mond

    Are you disagreeing with Brian or disagreeing with yourself?

  • Brian Boru

    “Mustapha Mond”

    The Republic of Ireland. Doh!

  • Mustapha Mond

    Republic of Ignorance you mean… got ya

  • briso

    I seem to be in the uncomfortable position of provoking an argument with someone with whom I agree totally!! Yokel, you’re right about the fear which causes racism being essentially the same as that which causes sectarianism. We’re 95% on the same line. The only thing is, there is just a bit extra going on here.

    Even moreso than during the troubles, Loyalists are extremely paranoid about losing control of areas they have been the majority in for years. This is especially true in Belfast but in many other places as well. New private estates (i’m thinking now of Newbuildings and Drumahoe) are absolutely festooned with Union Jacks and ‘Ulster Culture’ flags even as the builders are working on them. The intent is of course to scare off Catholics before they even are tempted to arrive! This racism/sectarianism against Poles and others needs to be considered in this light also. Fear of ‘infiltration’ and subsequent retreat. It’s a very sad state of affairs.

  • TAFKABO

    The depressing thing about this thread is the predicable concentration on WHO is carrying out racist attacks, rather than the racist attacks themselves.
    I abhor racism, and no amount of affinity I have for the Unionist community will alter that.
    I think it’s pretty much fair to say that a majority of racist attacks occur in what is generally percieved as unionist areas.
    There are many reasons why this might be so, but I humbly suggest that arguing one group of people are inerrantly disposed towards racism is the very definition of a self defeating argument.
    Like I said at the beginning, I abhor racism, so much that I refuse to get drawn into whataboutery, suffice to say that no section of our society is free from racism, and arguing that it occurs more with themmuns is a piss poor way to address the problem.

    It happens, it shouldn’t happen, end of story.

  • “It doesn’t happen in the Republic”
    Brian Boru

    Do the two names Zhao liu Tao and Leong Ly Min ring any bells? Do you really believe that the Republic has somehow escaped from a disease which afflicts every other country in the Western world?

    Regarding the original topic, although it can be a cathartic exercise for certain posters to use such attacks as another stick to bash Unionists/Loyalists, that doesn’t really bring us any closer to finding real solutions for the problem.

    One more positive measure would be for the UUP to prove that their recent appointment of an “Ethnic Affairs Spokesman” is not all window dressing.
    This would be the perfect time to show some pro-active “on the streets” anti-racism from within political Unionism.

  • briso

    > arguing that it occurs more with themmuns is a
    > piss poor way to address the problem.

    I hope you’re not referring to me TAFKABO. I argued exactly the opposite, that the reason there are more of these attacks in Loyalist areas is because the fear of losing territory is superimposed on the racism that is present throughout all society. I’ve heard racist language just about everywhere I’ve lived, inside NI and outside.

    You say it’s probably fair “to say that a majority of racist attacks occur in what is generally percieved as unionist areas.” You also say there are many reasons that might be so. What are they? The only post that has directly addressed this asserts that there are simply more foreigners in unionist areas such as South Belfast than in Nationalist areas. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it is certainly a perfectly plausible explanation.

  • TAFKABO

    Briso

    I wasn’t referring to anyone in particular and I would be more than happy to have a discussion about why racist attacks appear to happen more frequently in unionist areas, but not here, on this thread.
    My intial complaint is that we are falling into the same old trap of making every thread about ussuns Vs themmuns, and to answer your question here would just be to continue that pointless discussion.

    I think the priority is to first of all call the attacks for what they are, condemn them as unacceptable no matter the so called provocation, and hopefully discuss how we could set about dealing with the problem.

  • briso

    Sorry TAFKABO, I don’t get it. How can we discuss dealing with the problem if we’re not prepared to discuss where it is coming from???

    I’m finding this very frustrating! Answering my question would not in any way continue the pointless discussion if you really think you could shine some light into my darkness. For instance, the explanation about there being more foreigners in Unionist areas raises a whole load of interesting (to me!) questions in my mind, but first I want to know if it’s true and what else is going on.

    As for those you perceive as plodding off down the same old track, ignore them. I often do. There are occasional nuggets of gold on Slugger, surrounded by large amounts of good solid worthy earth and the occasional lump of dung.

  • TAFKABO

    Sorry TAFKABO, I don’t get it. How can we discuss dealing with the problem if we’re not prepared to discuss where it is coming from???

    Where it is coming from is not necessarily the same as who it is coming from.
    I’m happy to try and discuss where and why it is happening, but I hope you understand why I believe the unnecessary focus on the fact that these current attacks are probably caused by unionists adds nothing more to the discussion than stating the truth about the ethnicity of those responsible for the two racist deaths in the republic that were mentioned upthread.

    I’m finding this very frustrating! Answering my question would not in any way continue the pointless discussion if you really think you could shine some light into my darkness. For instance, the explanation about there being more foreigners in Unionist areas raises a whole load of interesting (to me!) questions in my mind, but first I want to know if it’s true and what else is going on.

    I think it’s happening, or at least appears to be happening in one area more than another for different reasons.
    I have no hard figures but I get the impression that people tend to move into percieved unionist or Loyalist areas more than they do into perceived nationalist or republican areas.
    More people means more opportunity for racism to rear its ugly head.
    I think another factor worth considering is that those foreigners( I mean no offence by using that word) who move into republican areas have been told that they musn’t contact the police when they have a problem, and if this is the acse it could be that there are unreported cases skewing the figures.
    A definite contribution has been the toal lack of responsible leadership from Unionist politicians, indeed I had considered votig for the UUp at one point,until Councilor Crowe made overtly racist comments in opposition to a planning application for a Mosque.
    It wasn’t his comments so much as the lily livered response from the leader of the party to his comments that made me decide I could never vote for such a party.
    Much as I detest Sinn fein, it has to be said that they have a commendable record on not only condemning racism, but campaigning aganist policies which are perceived as racist, I think this does have an effect on their electorate, lessening the likelyhood of racism being seen as acceptable.

    The last point is that in many ways this is inevitable, given that we are going through a period of change and uncertainty, certain elements always exploit times like these to stamp their own mark and use manufactured crisis of dirty foriegners coming in to and area as a convenient excuse to round up the troops.

    How do we deal with all these things?

    Well, one thing I do know is that starting off by demonising all the unionist community is not going to enable one to go to those same communities and begin a dialogue.
    In unionist areas, NGOs and anti racist groups are percieved as being anti protestant and unionist from the beginning, there is already a mistrust (for good reason IMO).
    From my own experience,I am protestant working class, and usually the first thing I have to do when I come into contact with nationalists and left wingers is prove myself innocent of racism and bigotry before they will accept me as an equal.
    I remember working for an NGO and being in contact with some anti racist networks in mainland Europe.They simply wouldn’t accept me as being from the loyalist community, they saw the loyalist community as the enemy and wanted me to provide evidence of the links between loyalists and the BNP.
    So, how can an attitude like that hope to have an effect in those communities?

    We ought to be reaching out to the non racist elements within those communities, not damning the whole lot of them as iredeemable.

  • briso

    TAFKABO

    Thanks for taking the time to type that post. It deserves a longer, more considered answer than I can give it now. If the thread is still available tonight, I’ll have another go!

  • Shuggie McSporran

    briso

    “For instance, the explanation about there being more foreigners in Unionist areas raises a whole load of interesting (to me!) questions in my mind, but first I want to know if it’s true and what else is going on.”

    There is a very simple, common sense answer to this.

    Housing in working class protestant areas in Belfast is a lot cheaper than in catholic areas.

    There is much more competition for accomodation in working class catholic – house prices and rents are a lot higher as a result.

    There have been many recorded racist attacks in north Belfast and they have mostly, not always, occured in protestant areas. It’s because those areas are much cheaper to rent or buy, that’s why immigrants have chosen to go there.

    You don’t have to take my word for this. If you go to the Ulster Property Sales website, where propertiess are ranked by price (it’s probably the biggest estate agent in N.Belfast) and compare prices by area you’ll notice that the same type of house costs £20,000-£30,000 more in a catholic area than in a similar enviroment in a protestant area.

    Sometimes on the very same road where one end is protestant and the other end is catholic you’ll pay 30-50% more rent to live on the catholic end. So if you just arrived from the Phillipines and look for accomodation on that road which end would you choose? It’s what the Americans call a “no-brainer”.

  • briso

    I assume this is because the Protestant population is falling and the Catholics can’t move in to take their place?

    This just supports my impression that this has at least something to do with territory. In a normal market where people could live where they wanted, you wouldn’t get this sort of extraordinary imbalance. Thoughts?