But would you live beside one?

Listening to the coverage of the attacks against the Romanians over the past few days, there seems to have been 2 points of view. On the one hand, blame is being apportioned to the ‘extremists’, to the small handful, to the very few intolerant people who live in every society. However, there has been a very steady stream of callers to radio shows on both sides of the border who make their very rational arguments that while they may not agree with violent methods, they certainly agree that ‘they’ don’t belong here.

The Equality Commission published a survey today confirming that our attitudes are hardening, and it’s not just Travellers, Roma or those from outside our spectrum of acceptable white people. ‘More than one in five people (23%) say they would mind a gay, lesbian or bisexual person living next door, compared to 14% three years ago. The same number (23%) say they would have the same problem with a migrant worker. Almost one-in-six of those surveyed (16%) said they would not want a person with mental ill-health as a neighbour. In comparison, 6% felt the same about those with a physical disability. Having a neighbour of a different religion was a difficulty for only 6% of respondents.Bob Collins said ‘The findings suggest a hardening of views towards some people and also the complexities around those views. For example, in a similar survey in 2005, we asked about attitudes towards disabled people generally and received fairly positive responses. In this survey we have probed more deeply and found that those with mental ill-health were viewed more negatively than other groups of disabled people. Attitudes became more intense as the respondents considered closer social contact with the groups in question. So, in attitudes towards many groups, more people would mind having them as an in-law, than would mind having them as a neighbour or a work colleague. The most negative attitudes were expressed towards Travellers. A substantial minority also responded negatively towards gay, lesbian or bisexual people and towards migrant workers.

Perhaps it is a sign of our economic times that we become more protective of our borders and there is a herd instinct to be mindful of ourselves first. Irish people are renowned for helping others across the globe in times of hardship, but it certainly seem that we prefer if they stay where they are to get that bit of help.

More worrying of course are the views against other sections of society who don’t fit our idea of the norm. It must be at times like this that we turn to our leadership for example on tolerance and acceptance. That includes tolerance of the Gay, Lesbian and Bi-sexuals and an acceptance of their sexuality. I was a little surprised at the attitude towards those with disability or mental health problems. That more than anything else would appear to signal a loss of tolerance that is very worrying indeed.

Religious tolerance is improving, but what have we lost along the way?

  • Harry Flashman

    Tolerance is due to all citizens who obey the laws, neither the state nor baying mobs have any right to persecute fellow citizens no matter what their ethnic or religious origins and no matter their physical attributes or sexual orientation. Anyone who persecutes law abiding fellow citizens deserves to be punished in the strongest possible terms.

    Anyone who is not a citizen and has no right to be in the country should be asked to leave immediately. Anyone who breaks the law should be punished just the same as everyone else regardless of their national, ethnic or religious background.

    The above two positions are perfectly compatible with a happy, tolerant and integrated society. When one part of society feels that one of these positions can be ignored you will have trouble.

    Enforce the law equally without fear or favour and you won’t have any problems, it’s really not that complicated.

  • kensei

    In this survey we have probed more deeply and found that those with mental ill-health were viewed more negatively than other groups of disabled people

    I’d guess this still isn’t deep enough. That is a wide range of conditions, some of them that could lead to potentially worrying behaviour and some less so.

  • Paulski

    I for one, am totally fed up of all them foreigners coming over to our country. Not in my back yard, thank you. Who do they think they are? They should do us all a favour and get out.

    We need to be left in peace, so we can all get back to fighting each other again.

  • Harry, I assume you’d be happy to extend what you say on tolerance to non-citizens who have a right to be in the country.

    And that every person deserves humane treatment, whether they have a right to be in the country or not.

  • Mayoman

    “But would you live beside one?”

    In a choice between ‘them’ and Harry Flashman, ‘them’ would win every time! Could you imagine???

    “Travellers breaking the law?? I dooon’t belieeeeve it!”

  • Dread Cthulhu

    The problem with these surveys is that they’re a fairly blunt instrument, as it rarely answers the question asked. The question being answered is “would you mind living next to a (blank) person,” but “would mind living next to a generic *stereotypical* (blank) person.”

    Once you include the missing word, since the survey, I’d wager, gives little guidance, a lot becomes clear.

  • Miss Fitz

    Dread
    The important thing here is that this is not a snapshot, it uses the same measurements as a previous survey, so the important thing to look at is the significant change in the attitude. It certainly gives a little basis in research to the attitudes we he seen overtly displayed

  • Paulski

    “The same number (23%) say they would have the same problem with a migrant worker. Almost one-in-six of those surveyed (16%) said they would not want a person with mental ill-health as a neighbour.”

    This speaks volumes.

  • John East Belfast

    I think we have to distinguish between prejudice arising from what People are as opposed to the preception of what they do.

    Problems with living next door to ANY Jew, Catholic or a Black person would be out and out racism/prejudice and should not be tolerated.

    However when 51% of people say they would have problems living next door to a Traveller then it is because of perceptions they have of that community and how they behave. Are those perceptions in anyway justified and – as this should be a two way street – have the Travellers helped the situation ?

    I have never lived beside a Traveller but my wife works with many catholics who do and she has never found one with a good word to say about them. Is that all prejudice or is it just experience ?

    I would be interested to see how that 51/49% populace was split between Catholic and Protestant. Catholics tend to have the Travellers in their Community whereas Protestants rarely do. My understanding of Travellers is what I read in the papers about family feuds and the mess at their camps and what I hear from my wife’s catholic colleagues.

    I would be lying to say I wouldnt mind a Traveller living next to me. Having said that if they had chosen to live permanently in a house then it might not be such an issue – however my greatest fear would be a Traveller Camp within 1 mile of my house.

    Also the fact that only 6% said they would mind a Catholic or Protestant neighbour is surely progress and confirms that we are not talking about out and right prejudice in the survey but more people simply being honest about living beside people of a totally different life style choice that would impact on them

  • fair_deal

    “Attitudes became more intense as the respondents considered closer social contact with the groups in question.”

    Equality (like human rights) will always poll well when it is a general concept but the more it impacts upon an individual’s life the less supportive they become.

    “The results of the survey highlight the breadth of work which remains to be done in order to effectively change perceptions and attitudes towards citizens in Northern Ireland.”

    Nice try for a bigger budget Bob but here is a question for you – if as the comparative analysis of these surveys tend to show the situation is deteriorating then none of the present policy tools i.e. statutory duties, public education etc have worked. Why will more of the same be any different?

  • Neil

    JEB,

    I’m from the Glen Road and have a traveller family about four doors down. It probably is more down to prejudice than anything, the Gipsies in the street are among our better neighbours, they take little to do with anyone which is pretty normal for the cul de sac in question.

    The camp is within a mile but I suppose the same rule applies with gipsies and society at large, some of them are ok, and some of them aren’t. It’s a hard life and I do feel sorry for the kids sometimes, but that’s what they want to do so I suppose they must like it.

    The 6% figure is a bit misleading because of the question I feel. Attitudes are softening among younger people, which is great, but for those of us (myself included) who live in a very polarised area, the question is basically saying would you for example a Catholic accept a Protestant moving into your 100% Catholic street? Well no of course not, not likely to be a problem is it? But would I move into a 100% Loyalist area like Tiger’s Bay? A million times no, I’d rather get a tent from Argos and move into the Glen Rd. camp.

    The question is too unspecific, it’s basically asking would you mind ‘them’ moving into ‘your’ area? How many people if asked would you move into ‘their’ area would have said no? 100% I reckon masell, so does that mean then that we are 100% sectarian? No, but we’re not 6% sectarian either.

  • Mayoman

    An interesting article here: http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/02/13/the-power-of-sterotypes/

    On the negative power of stereotyping. Its a hard one for the single-tracked right-wingers to grasp, but black-and-white philosophies adopted by the ‘we stick to the law and you don’t’ brigade are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • The outcry over the Roma has been amusing from afar, although not for ‘some’ of the Roma concerned. It has been all these nice middle class people parading their anti racist credentials. If these Roma had been living in a nice middle class leafy avenue, the police would have fitted them up and they would have been on the next plane out, I jest not.

    Over in England travelers unable to find anywhere to park there vans, have brought a plot of land out of the way in the countryside. Within hours the whole force of the law comes down upon them, Police, politician’s, Local authority, local paper and shyster lawyers. Yet no one in politics or the media mentions the words racism or bigotry. They just cry saving the environment and green belt, whilst taking a back hander from a developer.

    If there were a reality TV company worthy of the name, they would buy a house next door to Mr and Mrs Robinson or Mr McGuinness, and hire 25 Roma to live in it. Then stand back and let the rest of us enjoy the hypocrisy of these creeps.

    The main cause of this type of problem is not simply racism, it is people are never asked to have a say about what goes on in the area they live in. Our betters decide all that for us 😉

    As to disabled people, it is rightly against the law to discriminate against them, any one who does should be prosecuted, but I will not be holding my breath until they are.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Missfitz: “The important thing here is that this is not a snapshot, it uses the same measurements as a previous survey, so the important thing to look at is the significant change in the attitude.”

    Sure — all of which means A) that the stereotypes are more disliked now than they were then or B) familiarity has bred contempt… YMMV.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Harry, I assume you’d be happy to extend what you say on tolerance to non-citizens who have a right to be in the country.

    And that every person deserves humane treatment, whether they have a right to be in the country or not.”

    Usual pointless blether, everyone deserves humane treatment, is anyone suggesting otherwise? But if there are people who are not entitled to be in the country then they should be removed, not too complicated I would have thought.

    Furthermore all people who are in the country whether native or foreign born, no matter what their ethnicity or sexual preference, should abide by the same rules as everyone else.

    If you start making exceptions for this group or the other based solely on their pre-supposed “group” identity then you will have trouble.

    Keep it simple; the only people entitled to be in the country are those who are deemed to be legally there regardless of race or sexual preference and everyone within the country has equal rights and just as importantly equal responsibilities.

    Not too difficult to work out you’d have thought but for some people it appears to be akin to quantum physics.

  • Perhaps, I am missing something but I find the results of the survey a horrible indictment of the society – what cannot be justified or covered up by calling for unbiased enforcement of the law.

    I find it incredible that so many people would be so gratuitously negative about the sexual orientation of neighbors, migrant workers living next door, minority people in the community, etc.

    Reminds me of what Stasi spies got paid for.

  • Jo

    “Keep it simple; the only people entitled to be in the country are those who are deemed to be legally there regardless of race or sexual preference and everyone within the country has equal rights and just as importantly equal responsibilities.”

    Thats all actually very fair, Harry. Good for u. 🙂 This is a far cry from those who point up people attacking and burning out immigrants as somehow highlighting that there is a problem with immigration.

    The problem is hatred.

    The problem is intolerance.

    The problem is breaking the law.

  • daisy

    I find the word “tolerate” patronising, paternalistic and condescending. Why do we have to “tolerate”? Why not just accept?

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    what is so very sad, I think, Ireland says it’s the land of a thousand welcomes…and then acts this way. The Irish Disporia is all over the world. The Irish have been taken in by countries for centuries…. Now that it is the Irish’s turn…it’s not so welcoming. I guess in a very sad way…the thousand welcomes is only for tourist with money.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Kathy C: “what is so very sad, I think, Ireland says it’s the land of a thousand welcomes…and then acts this way. The Irish Disporia is all over the world. The Irish have been taken in by countries for centuries….”

    A lovely image of history… although the ugly bits would appear to have been dropped out. Rose colored lenses, or deliberate ignorance of ugly facts?

    Immigration causes displacements, with the immigrants usually starting at the bottom societal rung. This has changed with the modern era, up to a point, with capital no longer nailed down to one location.

    That said, some groups assimilate better than others. Some groups embrace the culture into which they’ve entered, whilst others within the immigrant group retain certain habits that grate upon the host population and make peaceful co-existence more difficult, such as honor-killings or taking anything not nailed down.

    It is not fair that the main body of immigrants suffer for the misbehavior of some. But it is equally unfair to expect the host community to accept some of these behaviors.

    A police force worthy of the title would be a good start in solving some of this conflict.

  • IJP

    JEB

    An excellent, well-constructed post, and a very awkward point made well.

    The (blind) prejudice versus (genuine) experience distinction deserves highlighting much more.

  • 6countyprod

    Any takers for this family to live beside them?

  • Big Maggie

    Next time I hear somebody squealing about there being but a “tiny minority” of intolerant, racist or xenophobic people in our midst I’ll shove those percentages under their noses.

  • Pete Baker

    Clearly this survey is a vote of confidence in the work done over the last three years by the Equality Commission…

    “Our mission: To advance equality, promote equality of opportunity, encourage good relations and challenge discrimination through promotion, advice and enforcement.”

  • If we all go through life believing racism and prejudice is based solely on ignorance due to a lack of education, intolerance and breaking the law we will never solve the problem.

    Some of the UKs best educated people displayed the most foul racist behavior when they helped administer the British empire, yet in private they were the most civilized and tolerant of people.

    Not one of you went near my comments about leafy suburbs because some felt it was far to close to home, instead you bleat away about young loyalist thugs as if that is the cause of the problem instead of a symptom.

    The whole political set up in the north is racist as it fits people into nice sectarian slots, and then, when some youngsters with to much time on their hand’s behave in the most despicable way, you vent you spleen on them, instead of the society that produced them. Still it is easier to put societies problems down to those at the bottom of the heap, rather than challenge ourselves and those who govern us.

    Now you can all breath a sigh of relief as the Roma have gone home, cheer when some kid goes to jail over this and cry justice has been done. People are not born racist, ignorant and intolerant, these are all things they learn from society as a whole.

    Is it any wonder the Roma took the exchequer for their fares home, and good luck to them for doing so.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “Some of the UKs best educated people displayed the most foul racist behavior when they helped administer the British empire, yet in private they were the most civilized and tolerant of people.”

    It’s easy to tolerate someone when you don’t actually have to deal with them on a one-to-one, real-world basis.

    The suburban liberal state senators of Massachusetts thought enforced busing was a great idea, esp. since they limited the range of busing to the city limit — i.e. the blacks would be bused into urban white majority neighborhoods within the city, not out to suburban liberal white school districts.

  • PaddyReilly

    A friend of mine committed many solecisms in his life, including folk music, and as a result ended up living in a Housing Association flat in an Inner City area of South Wales.

    One day a family of Romanian gypsies moved into his street. I suggested a number of Welsh Gypsy folksongs he could play outside their house to surprise them, and supplied the words in Romany. The next time I met him I asked how the serenade had gone, and he said that the gypsies had moved away, to the universal relief and approval of their neighbours.

    Now you may think that this is due to racism, but you have to realise that the people of this street were Kurds, Poles, Indians, Chinese, West Indians, Irish and Welsh. If they could tolerate each other, why could they not abide the gypsies? The reason was, the gypsies were robbers.

    The fact is that gypsy/Roma/traveller is not a race, but a way of making a living. Basically it goes as follows. You are nomads: you move around in a large family or small tribe. Your ethos is that you have civic obligations to other members of the tribe: all other persons are less than human beings and are there to be exploited to the maximum.

    You descend on an area en masse, and for a brief period of time exploit it to the hilt. Begging is the least offensive of your activities, though the use of children in this activity can, according to our laws, amount to child abuse, even kidnapping. Fortune telling progresses into the boojo, where you convince some gullible old woman her money is cursed, and make off with it. Then of course there is theft, beginning with chickens and moving through burglary to purse snatching. See the film “Dom za Vesanije” or “The Time of the Gypsies”, which is very fair, and shows many Roma get caught up in this practise without actually wanting to.

    The way the tribe think, if the gaujos can still abide them, they’re not doing their job properly. Their economy is adapted to gaining the maximum financial benefit from an area, at the cost of leaving behind the worst possible reputation. I don’t suppose they’re at all surprised at the way the people of South Belfast have reacted to them, and they are playing the refugee/persecution thing to the hilt, with the aim of making as much as possible out of it and getting repatriated for free. After a breather they will repeat the process in some other country.

    A Dubliner once told me that though Tinkers came from the same stock as Irish, they had evolved into a different race. It’s like dogs and wolves, he said.

    When your gypsy is not involved in nomadic tribal plundering, he ceases to run with the wolves and becomes something quite tame and boring.

    But the current outcry has the effect of exonerating crime and blaming the victims of same. If people hate the Mafia, it doesn’t mean they are acting from anti-Italian prejudice. Dislike of nomadic exploitative bands is unrelated to the ethnic origins of their members. Please have some sense.

  • The Raven

    Paddy, I think what you have written is a very honest “other” view that I had never really thought about. And strangely, I don’t mind admitting that. Hmm.

  • Dave

    “The main cause of this type of problem is not simply racism, it is people are never asked to have a say about what goes on in the area they live in. Our betters decide all that for us ;)” – Mickhall

    I don’t think that racism had anything to do with it. The Romanians, bringing with them a culture of criminality and general anti-social behaviour that they inflict on the community wherein they reside, are part of a problem of immigration has created but that people had repressed concern about in response to a deliberate campaign in the media and in politics to censor the relevant political debate, leaving the people seething in anger and frustration in a way that came violently to the surface in response to the antics of these Romanians.

    The Daily Mail, unlike those who imposed spurious conclusions without examining the evidence, asked local people what the problem was:

    [i]Ian Magill, 45, runs the only shop in The Village, which was once a stronghold for Loyalist terrorists. He is a calm, intelligent man, whose greatest wish is that his three sons do not get into trouble with the law.

    Dominic, his youngest son, was adopted from Croatia, so Mr Magill can hardly be described as someone with a hatred of foreigners.

    But he is under no illusions about why people from his area were involved in the violence.

    ‘People feel like they are under siege because of all the immigrants coming in,’ he said. ‘It’s getting to the stage where people just don’t care any more.
    ‘You get branded a racist if you speak out about the issue of immigration. But I think I’m being a realist, not a racist, when I say that this is something we must address.

    ‘Most of the Polish immigrants work — but these people [Romas] don’t,’ he added.

    ‘They are pretty uneducated and they seem to think that the only way they can survive is to bend the rules.

    ‘But when you are doing this, and carrying out crimes against local people, it becomes a problem. They shouldn’t be here.’

    Not all Mr Magill’s fellow citizens are as considered as he is. At a nearby off-licence, a young, welldressed man of about 30 erupts in anger.

    He says all these ‘foreigners should be burned out of their f****** homes. All we hear about are their problems. For once, why don’t you write about the problems these people cause to us locals’.

    He is referring to a wave of petty crime that has swept Belfast over the past two years — the period in which the Roma have arrived.

    The crimes, confirmed by police, range from ‘mobbing’ elderly ladies at cashpoint machines, distracting them while they steal cash, to using razor blades to slice the straps of handbags and disappear with possessions before anyone knows.

    Roma have also been linked with prostitution and people trafficking. But it is the petty crimes that are causing such fury.

    Countless people I spoke to in The Village reported clothes being stolen from their washing lines — one man claimed to have seen a Roma wearing his distinctive jeans, which had disappeared while hanging out to dry, only for the thief to laugh in his face — and children’s bikes being taken from back yards.[/i]

    Why are the political and chattering classes determined to say that this racism when it clearly is not, and when they have not bothered to examine the evidence before superimposing a conclusion about the nature and cause of the problem?

    I will tell you why: it is because debate about immigration between EU states must be censored from national politics because the power to control such immigration has been deleted from national politics and such debate, apart from being rendered irrelevant, merely serves to draw attention to the fact that the nation no longer has the sovereign power to control immigration. In effect, people have deleted democracy from the equation and there is therefore no means of changing the applicable immigration policy if the nation has such a debate and duly decides that it is not in its national interest and must be changed. What happens when you deprive nations of a democratic means of seeking a desired change? Does that question really need to be asked in NI? There is no democratic means of seeking a desired change (or, rather, there won’t be after 2011), so you are into a realm whereby the only means of seeking change is through violence. That is the absolute reality of what has been engineered by the deletion of democratic politics from the equation.

  • Dave

    [b] Continued[/b]

    Clearly, uncontrolled immigration between EU states is not in the national interest (apart from being in the artificially-engineered European nation’s national interest), so those who oppose this policy or draw any attention to it must be branded as racists/xenophobes/nationalists/etc and the unwanted debate thereby censored by such chicanery. For example, 80% of all new jobs that have been created in the UK since 1997 have been taken by immigrants. The large corporations support such migration of foreign nationals into host nations because it allows them to force down the wages of nationals, benefiting such corporations but excluding nationals from the national labour market. In most cases, the state of the host nation will pay these corporations to create these jobs for the benefit of the nation but in actuality that nation that is benefiting is not the nation that pays the grants but the foreign nation that supplies the labour to take the jobs that the host nation has paid the corporations to create. Billions are squandered by the host nation to foreign corporations by this means, and billions in wages exported to foreign nations by these migrant workers. Romania, for example, has exported 2 million migrant workers in 2 years to other EU states with the purpose of exporting wealth from these host nations to Romania. This is beggar-thy-neighbour polices facilitated by EU law and passed off as the opposite. If in doubt that your nation is bankrupting itself and will not have enough wealth retained within its borders to pay the pensions of its own workforce, I suggest you read today’s post on John Redwood’s blog.

    The people of the UK need to decide if they are a nation with a national interest or if they wish that national interest to be replaced with a European national interest, since they are most definitely not the same thing (the EU nations will take your jobs and export your wealth to their own country but they won’t pay your pensions when you have allowed your wealth to be drained).

    These nations will eventually have the same claims to your state as your own nation presently has. How many of you were told that migrants would depart from they were no longer needed and that by implication they were just there to serve the state rather than there by right? In Ireland, that was the most told lie, but the reality is that they have not departed and are still flooding in. And why would they depart? There is no work for them elsewhere either so they’re much better off staying in Ireland with its absurd welfare state and bankrupting the state with welfare claims. Milton Friedman called it right when he said that uncontrolled immigration cannot co-exist with the welfare state.

    No one would claim that a man is legally obliged to financially support his parents, so why when he must not financially support his parents must he financially support total strangers? It’s bad enough having to do that in other to support your own nation (but you do it from loyalty to your nation and not from legal obligation). When you destroy your nation, seperating it from its state, there is merely resented law compelling you.

  • fin

    ok Raven, now read it again and subsituate Jew for Gypsy or possibly Irish or black and see how it reads.

    A bit more uncomfortable maybe, why, easy, its giving a single personality to an entire race. Bit crazy that, a whole race acting in an identical manner, amazing, how do those Irish manage it, whoops Jews, whoops blacks, whoops Roma, thats what I meant.

  • The Raven

    Fin, I know, I know, I know. And actually on re-reading it, the same thought had occured to me. I don’t mind admitting that either. You used the words “uncomfortable” and “easy”. This is a topic where both are equally applicable. I’m saying nothing more before a few random, “out there” typings end up in a keyboard war.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    fin: “A bit more uncomfortable maybe, why, easy, its giving a single personality to an entire race. Bit crazy that, a whole race acting in an identical manner, amazing, how do those Irish manage it, whoops Jews, whoops blacks, whoops Roma, thats what I meant. ”

    Mayhap, but the unfortunate truth about stereotypes is, as much as some folks don’t necessarily *like* it, each contains a core of truth and, if one does a little research, and understand of that truth can be gleaned.

    Likewise, the Traveler and Roma cultures — they are *NOT* separate races — do have a strong tribal view on the world of “us” and “them,” with the “them” existing to be fleeced for the support of the “us” end of the equation. This doesn’t make every Traveler a scheming thief, but only the exceedingly obdurate would claim that their culture doesn’t encourage a certain laxness where private property is concerned.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Fin , you beat me to it..
    “Raven, now read it again and subsituate Jew for Gypsy or possibly Irish or black and see how it reads.”

    “I don’t think that racism had anything to do with it. The Romanians, bringing with them a culture of criminality and general anti-social behaviour that they inflict on the community wherein they reside, are part of a problem of immigration has created but that people had repressed concern about in response to a deliberate campaign in the media and in politics to censor the relevant political debate, leaving the people seething in anger and frustration in a way that came violently to the surface in response to the antics of these Romanians.”

  • Pigeon Toes

    It may also be of concern to the Planning authorities here, who are making exceptions for what they describe as “indigenous”

    http://www.pacni.gov.uk/reports/6516R.pdf

    Replace with place name , and we have a very, very odd situation.

    Discrimination?

  • Brian MacAodh

    Kathy C

    The Irish were welcomed everywhere with open arms! They were even provided free housing, health care and protection from exploitation!!!

    :/

    read history, much, do we?

  • PaddyReilly

    The predictable mendacious distortion, I’m afraid.

    Put it this way. Soccer hooliganism is rather a habit with the Englishry, who seem to have pioneered this form of criminality, unlike, say, the Mongolians. If a band of English soccer thugs descend on Ulan Bator and trash the place, would a movement by Mongolians to expel these thugs constitute anti-English racism?

    No, the fact is that the vast majority of English people are not soccer hooligans. Is it then a prejudice against working class English people, among whom this syndrome is found? No, because it is perfectly possible to be English, and working class, and not a soccer hooligan.

    In the same way there are millions of people of Indic race who do not steal handbags and washing from lines in Belfast. Objecting to this criminal practise is not racism. Is it then a prejudice against those person of Indic race (i.e Roma) who migrated to the Balkans? No, because there are plenty of Roma who are not currently engaged in wandering the world in felonous nomadic bands. The objection is merely to those Roma who have descended, en masse, on Belfast and proceeded to help themselves to other people’s handbags and washing.

    Different races have different styles of criminality. Soccer hooliganism is something the English do best, the Mafia is indelibly linked with the Italians in the public imagination, body organ harvesting is biggest in China, marital penectomy in Thailand, kidnapping for ransom is endemic in certain Arab countries, and nomadic bands that indulge in petty crime and mendicancy are a speciality of the Roma and, it must be said, the Irish travellers. That does not mean that the entire race is guilty of these activities, or that we should put up with such criminality because it is some other race that is doing it.

  • Ms Wiz

    But when you are doing this, and carrying out crimes against local people, it becomes a problem. They shouldn’t be here.’

    A local from the Village NOT talking about loyalist paramilitaries. I suppose it’s a case of better the devil you know.

  • daisy

    Were any of their alleged offences reported to the police?

  • P O’Neil

    I find this whole thing really hypocritcal, especially some of the comments from British / Unionst / Protestant communties. You have to integrate into ‘our’ society, live by ‘our’ laws, if you don’t want to do that, then go back to your own country.

    Why don’t you lead by example – this is not ‘your’ country, you have not intergated into the native culture etc etc – why do you piss off back to your own country??

  • I’m to a certain extent intolerant and regardless of what the Equality Commission may consider should give us angst, my list (and i suspect many folk) of awkward neighbours who I would prefer not to live beside me would be – (regardless of religion, origin, race, colour or creed) –

    House full of students
    House with dog constantly barking
    House with any sort of flag hanging out of it
    House with garden full of weeds blowing my way
    House with children constantly screaming in garden
    House with junk in front garden
    House with boat or caravan in driveway
    House with constant BBQ’s and music

  • miss fitz

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28793002@N03/3658481778/in/pool-northernireland/

    I remember quite some time ago having an on-line debate with Moochin and I said that instead of outright condemnation of racists,we should listen to them and hear their point of view. I felt that it was important to know why people are unable to tolerate people from other tribes, or as my post tried to show, people with disabilities or different sexual orientation.
    Well, I have been humbled by the debate. People have come on here and have made some really cogent arguments, and they have ranged from the academically impressive to the almost literate.

    But the one thing that shines through is that some people do not want to share space with people who threaten their view of normality. The Roma are an easy target due to some of the criminality associated with them, but that’s not the whole truth. We have a criminal justice system that is equipped for crminals, and not all Roma came here to steal. They came for a better way of life.

    I’ve linked this picture from FLICKR, as it is really important. We cannot expect people from different backgrounds to accept our way of life and be grateful for the privilege and tip their hat at us in gratitude. Someone asked why Strabane seemed like such a big deal for the Traveller outside City Hall? Well, its a hell of a commute if you have a kid in P2.

    What we really need to is to take the time and effort to understand the cultural needs of travellers and make some effort to provide what they need to live. Of course they steal the brass fittings, thats part of what they do. Why not work with Travllers and see what works and what doesnt instead of imposing our view of life on theirs and missing by a mile.

    Integration doesnt mean becoming like us, it means being able to live side by side, being aware of differences, yet living with them. You do not have to like it, but you should not sit in a judgement so extreme that you believe people like this have no right to life.

    This debate has almost become one of Eugenics, and that is, in my view, shameful.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Miss Fitz: “But the one thing that shines through is that some people do not want to share space with people who threaten their view of normality. The Roma are an easy target due to some of the criminality associated with them, but that’s not the whole truth. We have a criminal justice system that is equipped for crminals, and not all Roma came here to steal.”

    You soft-peddle aspects of the Romany culture and over-state the effectiveness of the police and criminal justice system. The police service in NI isn’t worthy of the title, having suffered paralysis by analysis and politicization long ago, while the prosecutor’s service and courts can’t be arsed to handle real crimes on anything greater than a “catch and release” basis, lest it offend this or that power-broker or clique.

    Missfitz: “I’ve linked this picture from FLICKR, as it is really important. We cannot expect people from different backgrounds to accept our way of life and be grateful for the privilege and tip their hat at us in gratitude.”

    Mayhap, but it is not unreasobable to expect some more than being flipped the bird and them doing as they will, either. It is equally unreasonable for the immigrant to expect the host nation to adapt to his wants and desires without expecting some assimilation in return.

    MissFitz: “What we really need to is to take the time and effort to understand the cultural needs of travellers and make some effort to provide what they need to live. Of course they steal the brass fittings, thats part of what they do.”

    And they need to understand that most folks resent being played for marks. And I suspect that, just maybe, you’ll have a hard time selling the notion that we need to “understand their cultural needs” where thievery is concerned. Some things you can work with… theft ain’t one of them. This isn’t some tribal notion of communal property gone aglee — steal for a Rom and see how they take it.

    Missfitz: “Integration doesnt mean becoming like us, it means being able to live side by side, being aware of differences, yet living with them. You do not have to like it, but you should not sit in a judgement so extreme that you believe people like this have no right to life. ”

    Mayhap, but expecting the host to endure a parasitic infection without so much as a peep is equally unreasonable. You cannot expect folks to simple simper and smile when their new neighbors are, among other things, robbing them of everything but the fillings in their teeth and laughing in their faces about it.

    From the Daily Mail article, it wasn’t a case of who they were that caused the trouble, it was what they did. While the collective punishment of the whole group is lamentable, it is also understandable, if not agreeable. The loaded question, MissFitz, is how long would you stomach it, were it your clothes and your goods being stolen? It is all well and good to preach sympathy for the immigrant, but a little understanding of the natives in this scenario might be warranted as well.

  • miss fitz

    I am writing this aware that news of my views will be quickly broadcast to my daughter. She was involved in a life threatening event a couple of years ago as a result of a dispute between 2 gangs of travellers.

    Do I hate the mn that did it and resent the fact that thy did not go to prison as a result of that incident? Well of course I do, unreservedly.

    Do I hate and despise all Travellers without knowing them and their story. Well, actually no, I dont.

    I believe in the rights of my fellow man to live his or her life unimpeded and if they do wrong to be subject to the vigour of the law for doing so.

    Your comments about the PSNI are just wrong. Modern day policing is never going to be about a cop on the corner, it is much more about us as citizens being aware of our risks andprotecting ourselves against those risks. If your knickers are getting stolen off the clothes, take them in at night. Crime doesnt rise because of the Police, it rises because more people choose criminality as a soft option for life.

    Anyway Dread, dont make those kind of assumptions. I have been through those experiences and I still hold my views

  • Dread Cthulhu

    MissFitz: “Your comments about the PSNI are just wrong. Modern day policing is never going to be about a cop on the corner, it is much more about us as citizens being aware of our risks andprotecting ourselves against those risks. If your knickers are getting stolen off the clothes, take them in at night.”

    So… it is the victim’s fault for not adapting rapidly enough to the in-comers’ casual attitudes toward other people’s private property?

    And, frankly, if the best NI can muster is cops to come clean up in the wake of rioters, as the did recently with the fella what was kicked to death, then, frankly, they’re of no more use than tits on a boar-hog.

    I’m not making assumption about you, MissFitz. In fact, for most of my post, all I have simply done it point out the other side of the coin. Your sympathies flow in only one direction, based upon what you’ve posted, and it is up to the host body to welcome those who would steal from them, which is equally unreasonable as the notion that all the Rom needed to be run out of town in the fashion they were. Tolerance and integration is a two way street and, frankly, I find the notion of forcing a smile and shaking my head when some of the Rom steal anything not nailed down (and, if they have claw-hammers, everything that it and maybe the nails too) ridiculous.

    The immigrant has a basic duty to conform to the laws of the society they are moving into, full stop. If their cultural kleptomania can’t be reined in and the police can’t be arsed to step up, as evidenced of the experience of the folks in The Village, what do you expect them to do — lie back and think of Ulster?

    You’re not wrong on the rights of the immigrants, but you’re dead wrong on the rights of the natives.

  • Neil

    Someone asked why Strabane seemed like such a big deal for the Traveller outside City Hall? Well, its a hell of a commute if you have a kid in P2.

    Newsflash, there are primary schools in Strabane. I changed school myself, it’s what happens when you have to move house to keep a roof over your head. If you’re actually in desperate need it shouldn’t be a problem.

    And it’s all very well if you want to buy a house, you can be choosy about where you end up. If you want someone to give you free land, worth at least tens of thousands of pounds, then you shouldn’t thumb your nose at the free land because it doesn’t suit your desires in terms of location.

    We have certain laws which we have to abide by, the European laws demand that NIHE provide these travellers with free land, that’s what they did. Obligation over and done with. Do we have to provide them with their dream plot? Can we site them at Osborne Park on the Malone Rd. then?

    What is your suggestion? Where would you site them? There’s not a lot of land lying around doing nothing in Belfast just now. I would also point out the if they really care about not disrupting your kids life the NIHE will provide a house for them, in Belfast. Maybe then it’s a case of choose the gypsy life and a free plot in Strabane, or your kids welfare and a house.

    Your comments about the PSNI are just wrong.

    Hold the phone, his comments on the PSNI are on the bullseye. The cops are totally useless. I live in a working class area and have seen behaviour out of the police that would stagger you. You can take line often heard from the middle classes that the PSNI would never behave in such an unprofessional way as to ignore complaints about criminal activity, actually endanger the public through their own actions, shouting abuse and swearing at the ‘wee cunts’ over their loudspeaker at the drunk teenagers on the Suffolk Road (actually winding up the hoods, children as young as twelve drinking, and then driving off leaving us to listen to the now hyper pissed thugs).

    Do you know the clear up rates for crime? About 20% I believe, which is shit by any reckoning. How about all the collusion info we’ve had lately, all lies I assume? How about the claims that they watched McDaid being murdered and did nothing through fear or laziness? How about their mishandling of the three biggest cases in recent memory, Omagh, McCartney and the Northern Bank? How about the gunman on the Falls Road, who after the police didn’t show for half an hour, and some poor woman was being threatened with a gun with her kids in the car, it took a local to punch the gunman out? The cops turned up after it was lal over, sat in the car for a while then drove off.

    Your argument is akin to saying if the cops cease working all together, and then 5 out of 5 criminals walk free (instead of 4 out of 5 like at present), we must then assume people have become more criminally minded. It’s not the cops doing nothing if more crime goes unpunished, it’s societies fault for not dishing out free land to people who, at the end of the day, will take as much free land as we are stupid enough to give them.

    Bollocks. If the cops never leave the police station and 100% of crime goes unpunished it’s because the cops never left the police station. Not society’s fault.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Militant Mike,

    What about rotary clothes lines, and noisy central heating boilers?

  • Ms Wiz

    There is a lot of racist claptrap being banded about here. ‘Cultural kleptomania?’ Could you be more insulting. Is it acceptable to label the Irish as ‘cultural pissheads’ due to the widely held stereotype that Irish people drink too much too often? In fact, weren’t the Irish regularly depicted in newspapers in Victorian times as apes, drunks and simpletons?

    The racists that attacked the Roma families are in all probability semi-literate low-lives with no job, prospects or future. People have commented that these youths’ actions are a reaction to immigration and lack of housing/jobs/women etc, but I fear they are attributing a political sophistication to these scumbags where none exists. I don’t see them on their feet all day flogging the Tele at traffic lights. But even if they were somehow able to articulate their bigoted views in a coherent sentence I wouldn’t think for one minute of bricking their homes. People in N. Ireland are supposed to be moving into a new era where disputes, issues and disagreements are not settled through violence or the threat of violence.

    Let’s re-phrase the question, would you live next to the youths who carried out these attacks?

  • Harry Flashman

    “Let’s re-phrase the question, would you live next to the youths who carried out these attacks?”

    I answered that question quite honestly a couple of days ago in an earlier post; I wouldn’t want to live within a country mile of either of them.

    But that’s irrelevant, the wee gobshites who carried out the attacks are probably citizens so alas there’s nothing we can do about them as the criminal justice system appears to have all but given up on imposing the law, usually at the behest of bleeding heart liberals who can’t see a bad thing in any wee hoodlum, unless he’s a “racist” hoodlum then he joins the seventh ring of Hell.

    The Roma on the other hand are not citizens and have little or no right to be in Northern Ireland and as they appear to have no legitimate means of support should be politely but firmly asked to leave, not gas chambers or genocidal squads of Einzsatgruppen, just quietly and humanely deported.

    Now to your other point Ms F, it appears that you have bought into this whole “group rights” business which to my mind lies at the bottom of the whole problem. You ask why “they” should accept “our” way of life. No one is asking anyone to accept anyone else’s way of life, it is really very simple indeed, the country has rules and laws, everyone should be equally subject to those laws without fear, favour or discrimination, try that system for a change and stop trying to impose “group identity” rights and you might find the problems of “racism” will disappear overnight.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Ms Wiz”, I apologise for the typo.

  • sinless

    “Irish people are renowned for helping others across the globe in times of hardship, but it certainly seem that we prefer if they stay where they are to get that bit of help”.

    Miss Fitz: You are American, yes? Irish Americans should stay in America. Mayor Daly and all that. The scene out of The Departed is good where L de Caprio has it explained to him why guys want to join the Boston police force: put a nigger’s head through a plate glass window.

    The only good thing about the Irish Americans is they don’t let sexual degenerates march in the Patrick’s day celebrationse. Lots others should not be let march either.

    I don’t know why Chinese are in the Paddy’s day marches. They are neither Irish nor Christian. Ship them home to be organ harvested.

    You know, if you go into a Chinese or Indain restaurant in the “UK” and tip the colleys – the boss keeps the tip. Diversity my arse.

    I would vote for the BNP – if they were not so racist.

  • James Connolly

    It is a truism that those who are pro-immigrant are on average never the ones that would have to live beside them. Pro-immigration groups are usually made up of the well to do.

  • ed

    The outcry over the Roma has been amusing from afar, although not for ‘some’ of the Roma concerned. It has been all these nice middle class people parading their anti racist credentials. If these Roma had been living in a nice middle class leafy avenue, the police would have fitted them up and they would have been on the next plane out, I jest not.

    Over in England travelers unable to find anywhere to park there vans, have brought a plot of land out of the way in the countryside. Within hours the whole force of the law comes down upon them, Police, politician’s, Local authority, local paper and shyster lawyers. Yet no one in politics or the media mentions the words racism or bigotry. They just cry saving the environment and green belt, whilst taking a back hander from a developer.

    If there were a reality TV company worthy of the name, they would buy a house next door to Mr and Mrs Robinson or Mr McGuinness, and hire 25 Roma to live in it. Then stand back and let the rest of us enjoy the hypocrisy of these creeps.

    The main cause of this type of problem is not simply racism, it is people are never asked to have a say about what goes on in the area they live in. Our betters decide all that for us 😉

    As to disabled people, it is rightly against the law to discriminate against them, any one who does should be prosecuted, but I will not be holding my breath until they are.

    Brilliant

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Ms. Wiz: “‘Cultural kleptomania?’ Could you be more insulting.”

    What would you call the surge in petty theft that accompanies the Rom, Ms. Wiz?

    As for the silliness about racism, the Rom are not a separate race — they may have been dark-skinned Dravidians once upon a time, but no longer, any more than the Mongols who invaded China are still Caucasians.

    Ms. Wiz: “People have commented that these youths’ actions are a reaction to immigration and lack of housing/jobs/women etc, but I fear they are attributing a political sophistication to these scumbags where none exists.”

    Actually, the need for shelter, food and a means of support are viscerally fundamental needs — no sophistication necessary.

    Ms. Wiz: “But even if they were somehow able to articulate their bigoted views in a coherent sentence I wouldn’t think for one minute of bricking their homes. People in N. Ireland are supposed to be moving into a new era where disputes, issues and disagreements are not settled through violence or the threat of violence.”

    Sure… and if you believe that, you’ll believe anything. Just tell the McDaid family.

    Once more, in short words, with feeling: The Rom didn’t deserve what they got from the natives. The natives didn’t deserve what they got from the Rom.

    MissFitz seems to think that we should be understanding of the Rom and their little cultural idiosyncrasies. I think that, as much as the N. Irish need to be accepting of some of the Rom’s culture, expecting them to accept the Rom’s lax attitudes for other people’s private property is a bridge too far to expect. And, if you don’t like the notion that the Rom and theft are synonymous, take it up with MissFitz, who stated, and I quote, “Of course they steal the brass fittings, thats part of what they do.”

  • Ms Wiz

    Dread Cthulhu

    What upsurge in petty theft? There’s been no upsurge in petty theft from the school I work in and we have FOUR whole Roma pupils. Stuff was getting nicked from our place long before the Roma arrived, in fact, they’re a decent bunch of kids all round and a lot better behaved than most of the pupils who grace our presence.

    I can almost understand if the Roma families were living in the heart of the Village and causing annoyance to all and sundry. But they weren’t. The racists went out of their way to attack them in an area that’s mixed and associated mostly with students. The shit conditions in the Village have nothing to do with the Roma.

    The Roma are regarded as a minority in Romania, comprising just 2.5% of the population. Forget the lazy stereotyping, read a book and enlighten yourself. Or just read, period.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Ms Wiz: “What upsurge in petty theft? There’s been no upsurge in petty theft from the school I work in and we have FOUR whole Roma pupils. Stuff was getting nicked from our place long before the Roma arrived, in fact, they’re a decent bunch of kids all round and a lot better behaved than most of the pupils who grace our presence.”

    My… apparently you haven’t been reading the links, preferring to go off half-cocked. Bravo.

    So, rather than address the points that even the pro-Roma folks have acknowledged, you’re still working on the “book those who don’t agree with you for a guilt trip” approach to debate. Because you haven’t experienced what the folks in the The Village have experienced, so *obviously* all the folks in the Village are lying.

  • miss fitz

    To clarify the brass fittings comment- it was part of my wider point on consultation with Irish Travellers about appropriate accommodation for their halting sites. The problem in the past has been that the powers that be design and fit these places from a settled perspective, without any consideration of what would suit a travelling way of life.

    Dread, I found your comments on the police interesting. I was making the point that police cannot be on every corner and that responsibility for crime and protection will have to come from within society. You talk about gangs of youths on streets and corners drinking and screaming. Well, tell me this, did the peelers fill them with drink and teach them bad manners? No, the parents allow tht to happen and the parents have the min responsibility. We are codding ourselves if we think law and order can replace fundamental parental responsibility

  • sinless

    “It is a truism that those who are pro-immigrant are on average never the ones that would have to live beside them. Pro-immigration groups are usually made up of the well to do.”

    And the rack renters and the basket weaving educationalists, who do well out of it.

    The waves of immigration benefited the rich and sundered the working/scumbag class. Start by kicking out the Irish Americans. No need to make them wear yellow shamrocks as their holier than thou bs is evidence enough.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    MissFitz: “Dread, I found your comments on the police interesting. I was making the point that police cannot be on every corner and that responsibility for crime and protection will have to come from within society. You talk about gangs of youths on streets and corners drinking and screaming.”

    Actually, I didn’t — Neil did… nice try, tho.

    What I’m saying is that the police have been so politically corrected that they’re next to useless and that the cultural norms of the Rom, vis-a-vis other folks property, might not be compatible with what most folks that live in Western Europe would consider to be the proper forms and norms.

    Meanwhile, you seem to be taking the line that the locals impacted by the Rom should grin and bear it as they pick your pockets, while Ms. Wiz seems to think the four crumb-crunchers in her school are a representational sample.

  • Rasberries

    It seems Dread Cthulhu, that the nasty Lumpen proletariat are causing all kinds of problems for the people posting here. I would see the people of the village as an ethnic minority in Ireland. So maybe that is why I understand why they have been pushed to react, unfortunate as that may be.

    Socialists need to get off their high horse and get back in touch with ordinary people and their day to day problems.Untrendy as that maybe

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Like I pointed out earlier in the thread, Rasberries, middle class socialists / social democrats love to be seen caring about people, but don’t actually wish to interact with those people — Busing in Boston (or any other major city where the state-level government imposed a feel-good solution on the city) is a prime example. Suburban do-gooders imposed a solution on Boston to integrate schools that stopped right at the city limits — so *THEIR* schools weren’t impacted.

    Same mentality here — it isn’t *their* community being impacted, so of course those nasty proles should tolerate the Rom,but keep them over there.

  • Brian MacAodh

    We need to focus on the positive.

    Both Catholics and Protestants agree for once-ROMA OUT

  • Ms Wiz

    ‘Both Catholics and Protestants agree for once-ROMA OUT’

    Yes indeed. Let’s have a bunch of drinks and beat someone to death to celebrate.

    Well, stereotypes do seem to be the order of the day on this thread…

  • miss fitz

    Dread Culthu
    Yes, you are correct, I was responding to comments made by Neil and not you. Sorry about that, and no malice intended