The deep and casual racism of the Irish

Interesting interview with Frank McGuinness. He warms to the description of Irish writer not for its association with literary greats of the past, but because the term is so endlessly contestable and ready for exploration. About 18 minutes in, he tells the story of a pub in Cork which promised a free pint every time a goal was scored against England. As he points out it’s a fairly trivial case, yet he asks: what would the reaction be to an English pub which offered free pints everytime a goal was scored against Ireland? Later of the peace process he notes that, “people are preoccupied with their own belief and their own history [so] that they are not willing to share in any big dialogue”.

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  • slug

    That is because the Irish are a historically disadvantaged group. There is a simple law of human conduct that says that those not from a historically disadvantaged group ought to steer clear of any negative comment directed against a historically disadvantaged group. However the historically disadvantaged group is given more lee-eay.

  • Pete Baker

    There’s an interesting aside to note, well I think so, on the comment that “people are preoccupied with their own belief and their own history [so] that they are not willing to share in any big dialogue”.

    The recently launched Why History Matters campaign.. and, as reported in the comments by Nevin, the opting out of the campaign by heritage groups here.

    “History is not abstraction, it is the enemy of abstraction”

  • Peter Fallow

    Or put another way: no one likes a winner (in historical terms), especially if your collective history is based on failure, begrudgery and victimhood.
    In World Cup terms, the Republic didn’t even qualify. Yet another reason for Irish nationalists to quiver under the crushing weight of their own inferiority and inadequacy. An unedifying sight to be sure.

  • Miss Fitz

    I cant hold this in any longer. Peter Fallow makes a point about the second rate nature of our collective history. I’m sorry, but dear God, does anything prove this as much as buying a rotten, stinking decaying boat that ferried people to a ship that sank and hundreds died? And £7 million quid to fix it? Last week I wrote about the Rape Crisis Centre not getting £60 grand in funding, and we are literally throwing money down a drain?

    If we dont have a glorious past to celebrate, what we really ought to be doing is creating excellence and pride now for the future. But let the dreadful bits of our past remain there

  • irishinuk

    I don’t see how the free pint stunt displays “deep and casual racism”. It’s a childish thing to do at the most.

    The vast majority of us in the ROI would be bemused if one of our fellow countrymen was still goin on about the “bloody English”. Of course racism exists down here, but I think we’re doing quite well (for now atleast).

    I know its slightly of topic, but I hate when people who have never suffered from racism or b-i-gotry start complaining when someone makes a joke about them. Its always “if you said that about a woman/jew/black person there’d be an outrage”.

    my 2 cents

  • Henry94

    If you are going to take a single pub as an example then you could prove anything.

    Would theire be a reaction if an English pub offered pints in that way? I doubt it very much. Who would care?

    In fact interest in English football in Ireland is one of the strongest links we have to a country that in other areas seems increasingly foreign and slightly old-fashioned.

    And at least around where I live the Real Madrid and Barcalona shirts outnumber most English clubs. But the Cork GAA shirts outnumber everything.

    There are a few headbangers who want us to think well of England and a few who want us to think badly. But in all honesty for the most part we don’t think about England at all.

    Frank McGuinness to me is describing the Ireland of 20 years ago.

  • irishinuk

    “no one likes a winner”

    One word…Brazil.

  • slug

    Does that include penalty shoot-outs?

  • Brian Boru

    I think that’s just banter like some Scots wanting England to lose. Shouldn’t be taken too seriously it’s only a game after all. Calling it “racism” is way OTT.

  • james orr

    “…The vast majority of us in the ROI would be bemused if one of our fellow countrymen was still goin on about the “bloody English”…”

    There are thousands, maybe tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands in RoI, Scotland, Wales and NI doing exactly that!

    And in Scotland even the First Minister Jack McConnell (now fondly described as Joke McConnell) has been rightly pilloried in the Scottish media for his anti-English comments during the World Cup, which are seen as having influenced a spate of assaults across Scotland of English people wearing England football shirts.

    Anti-English prejudice is made acceptable through all sorts of nonsense about a guilty colonial past, 800 years of hurt, they’re bigger than us and exploited our people/oil/land etc.

  • hurler on the Ditch

    ” Deep and Casual rascism”???

    I’m willing to accept that rascism is on the rise in Ireland (north and south) but it would be mainly aimed against immigrants of different race. This story from a pub in Cork is to my mind pretty light hearted and I’d be surprised if the same attitudes were not prevalent in Scotland. It is a throwback to having a laugh at the old colonial masters and shouldn’t be taken to serious. I think the attitude to the English is far more complex than simple rascism and cuts both ways. After all most of the clients in the pub were probably supporters of Roy keane and Man Utd (woops should mention Denis Irwin too). It’s very different to the very real menace rascism is becoming to irish society both North and South.

  • Hurler on the Ditch

    as a side note I remember hearing of an Irishman being interviewed while England were playing some other team years ago.

    reporter : Would you be Supporting England today?

    Irishguy: Absolutely not

    reporter : Why not?

    Irishguy : Because of 800 years of pain.

    reporter : So there’s no circumstances where you would support England?

    Irishguy : Well maybe if they were playing Kilkenny in the hurling.

    This isn’t verbatim but I think it sums up the irish attitude to the English soccer team…. It’s REALLY not that serious a thing.

  • Stephen Copeland

    When did the ‘English’ become a race?

    As far as I know (quite well, as it happens), the English are a mixture of many races, and stretch from the palest of nordic/celtic types to the darkest browns that Africa and Asia can produce.

    Whether the English have ever been a ‘race’ is open to question, but certainly they have not been of one single identifiable ‘racial’ origin in recent centuries. I think Mick’s title was unnecessarily confrontational.

  • Peking

    “That is because the Irish are a historically disadvantaged group.”

    The is the supposedly richest country in the world we’re talking about, right?
    Historically a bunch of self-obsessed whingers, more like.

  • slug

    “The is the supposedly richest country in the world we’re talking about, right?”

    I said historically disadvantaged. A well known law in life is that a member of a historically non-disadvantaged group cannot say negative things about a historically disadvantaged group.

  • Peking

    “A well known law in life is that a member of a historically non-disadvantaged group cannot say negative things about a historically disadvantaged group.”

    No, it sounds more like a “law” you just made up to suit your bogus arguement.
    According to you, no matter how well off you become the baggage of your antecedents means you cannot be criticised.
    What complete tosh.
    Plenty of “non-historically disadvantaged” people have an awful lot of negative things to say about Jews and Israel.

  • slug

    “Plenty of “non-historically disadvantaged” people have an awful lot of negative things to say about Jews and Israel.”

    It generally does not come across well; thats my point really. Of course people can say negative things about the historically disadvantaged group, but it doesn’t make them seem like nice people.

  • Peking

    slug
    As my litle tounge-in-cheek remark about Irish whingers shows, sweeping negative generalisations about any group of people, historically disadvantaged or not, do not sound well. They always say more about the speaker than the subject.

  • I find it interesting the defence by some here of the pub in Cork, which is all well and good. I just wonder would they find it equally “light hearted” if a pub in Belfast was offering free pints every time someone scored against the Republic in the next tournament they qualify for, or would such an action be evidence of the bigotry and sectarianism that surrounds football in ‘the North’?

    Or maybe it would just indicate a pattern of envying a larger, more successful neighbour and rival.

  • Hurler on the Ditch

    “I just wonder would they find it equally “light hearted” if a pub in Belfast was offering free pints every time someone scored against the Republic in the next tournament they qualify for, or would such an action be evidence of the ####### and sectarianism that surrounds football in ‘the North’?”

    1) Yep I would see it as pretty light-hearted. Wouldn’t surprise me if free pints are handed out in certain Cork pubs next weekend if Longford beat Kerry in the Football knocking them out of the All-Ireland. Likewise half the country want to see the Dubs lose because of the inherent culchie v dub rivalry.

    2) It wouldn’t be evidence of the sectarianism that surrounds football in the North. Evidence for that lies elsewhere and simply reflects the sectarianism that exists on both sides.

  • Peking

    beano
    The answer lies in human nature. We can all too readily find excuses for or laugh off the failings of our own side but, conversely, be deeply offended or outraged by the same shortcomings in others.
    Some FF ex-councillor at the Haughey funeral was quoted as mentioning Charlie’s “anti-Englishness” among a list of his attributes. It wasn’t even discussed by the media or other politicos. But can you imagine the outrage if anti-Irishness was claimed as a positive on behalf of a recently deceased English ex-premier.
    We are all hypocrites.

  • Hurler on the Ditch

    Now that I think about it this “deep and casual rascism” was never aimed at our previous English manager and majority of English born players….. And then of course Bobby Robson must be reeling from the amount of hate mail he’s getting from fans…. Good of him not to mention it…

    or maybe it IS a lighthearted rivalry rather than an imagined rascist attitude to the English.

  • Padraig Óg

    Only 1 pint??? The tight gobshite

  • Ringo

    Beano –

    The chances are that the pub in Cork had a handful of English fans in it at the time. Cork is an very popular place for English people to live, and I don’t ever remember watching a big England game in a pub anywhere down here where there wasn’t an English contingent.

    I watched the Portugal game in a run-of-the-mill pub in Clare where there were at least two tables with in English fans. The banter was good with plenty chants of FEEEGooO! (a-la Keanooo) and plenty laughs when it went to penalties, but nothing more serious.

    On the otherhand – can you safely say that if I wandered into a random pub in Belfast that was offering free pints for every goal scored against the Republic that I would be sure to be only subjected to the same ‘light-hearted’ banter?

    I have no problem agreeing with your second point – that it is built on the back of unease and envy of a larger, more powerful neighbour and rival. But there is very little of substance to be envious or uneasy about anymore – and the rivalry will remain.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Some of the comments above are clearly based on a misunderstanding of the current relationship between the southern Irish and the English. To be very plain about it, people in the south do not have any problem with the English, and do not dislike them. Yes, there is rivalry, and there may well be discussions on the rights and wrongs of historical events, but there is no current animosity.

    At this stage it is probably fair to say that about half of the population of England has one or more known Irish ancestor, and probably every single person in Ireland has relatives in England. There are many Irish people living and working in England, and many English people living and working in Ireland.

    It is not in any way similar to the northern Prod-Taig relationship, and that seems to be the mistake that some of the less-informed commentators above have made. Southerners do not see the English at all like the northern b1gots (who, to be fair, we do not like, despite the fact that they are part of our island family). The English are seen as relatively polite and respectful visitors and sometimes neighbours. We like their sports, we like their music, we like their humour, and they generally reciprocate.

  • PaddyReilly

    This is not racism. The English are not a race, they are a football team. An American who had lived for a long time in England said that he had encountered a lot of anti-American comments, but this was not race hatred, but a form of sibling rivalry.

    If the Irish were in the habit of winning the World Cup almost every year, I’m sure an English landlord would be justified in giving free pints when a goal was scored against them. As they didn’t even qualify, to make such an offer would only be drawing attention to his parsimony.

  • Padraig Óg

    Of course this ISN’T racism. Saying or believing it is only dilutes the real racism, the racism we see in vicious attacks on people, the discrimation against individuals because of skin colour or name, the daubing of racist graffiti (recently seen in Belfast as noted on another post)and so on. Labelling this as racism is offensive to people who are victims are racism and who have to deal with it everyday

    Not wanting England to win at football. Racist????

    Get a grip for fecks sake

  • Peking

    “The English are not a race …”

    And the Irish are?
    Never mind the American you mentioned.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Peter King,

    The English are not a race.

    The Irish are not a race.

    Citizens of the US are not a race.

    Is that clear enough?

  • Peter

    What I want to know is if the offer included free pints for goals scored in the penalty shoot out or just in normal and extra time?

  • Peking

    Stephen Copeland

    Try naming an ethnically pure race then.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Peter King,

    Why?

    Check back up the thread. You’ll notice that it was me who pointed out the inaccuracy of Mick’s title.

    Anti-Englishness (if it exists) cannot be racism, simply because the English are not a race.

  • Peking

    Stephen Copeland

    I only ask because you were one of those who, ludicrously, argued vehemently that the Danish cartoons were racist. Thereby labelling Islam as a race.
    You really must try to remember points you have made previously on Slugger.

  • Conor Gillespie

    we don’t however, as a general rule, like their food very much though

    (and to be fair, quite a few of them reciprocate with that as well)

  • harpo

    ‘And at least around where I live the Real Madrid and Barcalona shirts outnumber most English clubs. But the Cork GAA shirts outnumber everything.’

    Henry:

    I didn’t know that you lived in Dublin.

  • harpo

    ‘When did the ‘English’ become a race?’

    Stephen:

    Quite right.

    So the next time someone pokes fun at something Irish you won’t be saying that it’s racism either, will you?

  • DJG

    I have to agree with earlier posters that the case in point is simply distraction from the very real problems of anti-immigrant racism in Ireland.
    A friend owns a bar in Lanzarote that attracts tourists from all over Europe and he tells me regularly that the most racist customers he has by far are the Irish. He also says that they are the quickest to react to any perceived slight against their own country. Sadly this would seem to reinforce not only my own eyes’ evidence of Irish racism but also all the accusations of mopery that are so often quoted on Slugger.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Peter King,

    … you were one of those who, ludicrously, argued vehemently that the Danish cartoons were racist

    I have no recollection of having done so, and I have scanneed through the two threads that dealt with the issue, and found no post from me at all!

    EU Offices closed over cartoons
    A Danish match to a global fire

    It doesn’t sound like something I would say, but if you have better information than me, please share it.

    Or are you mixing me up with someone else?

    Harpo,

    … the next time someone pokes fun at something Irish you won’t be saying that it’s racism either, will you?

    Have I ever? Again, concrete examples rather than lazy accusations are better.

  • George

    And here is little old Ireland happily living with the biggest immigration wave per capita of any country in Europe.

    I suppose Ryanair, who are probably flying in the majority of the 10,000 newcomers a week, are racist for offering free tickets for goals scored against England during the World Cup.

    DJG,
    “A friend owns a bar …. and he tells me regularly that the most racist customers he has by far are the Irish”

    I have barworking friends who regularly regale me with tales of loud, drunken, violent English idiots. One example is of six visiting thugs telling the whole pub of Irish people that the English should have exterminated them all when they “had the chance”.

    Does that constitute evidence that the English want to exterminate the Irish? Does that make the English drunken, violent idiots?

    I think not.

    You don’t judge a nation by their lowest common denominators. You judge it by its actions.

  • Pat Lawlor

    In all honesty I think that “casual Racism” did play a part in Irish/English relations (and it worked both ways), but it is long since gone. The Irish are strange though, in that if they don’t win, they don’t want their neighbor to win. I was in a pub recently(in County Kildare), when their neighbouring county Laois were playing Tyrone in a GAA match, and the crowd were cheering for Tyrone, even though we are only two miles from the Laoise/Kildare county border, and everyone in the place had relations and friends living in County Laois. Odd!

    Regards.

    Pat