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I’m sitting in a large auditorium with my husband. We, along with the hundreds of other parents present, are thinking of applying for a place for our son in the school which houses this impressive theatre. We listen to various speakers describe the amazing facilities on offer; the state-of-the-art science and computer labs, the 25 metre pool, extensive sports grounds, the opportunities to take part in plays, musicals, debating, choir or orchestra. Not to mention the foreign trips, the charitable and cultural programmes, the rigorous academic standards. A sixth year pupil can’t speak highly enough of the school and the incredible experience he has had there.

At the end of the evening, we feel like losing contestants on ‘Bullseye’, the cult darts-themed quiz show hosted by Jim Bowen. Just before the show’s closing credits there was a slightly cruel twist; crestfallen punters were forced to watch as the curtains opened to reveal the ‘Star Prize’. At this moment Jim would deliver his catchphrase ‘Look what you could have won’ in his trademark jovial, yet regretful, tone.

We’ve had a glimpse behind the curtain, but we know there’s little chance we’ll win the star prize. Look what we could have won – if only dad had attended the school.

School access can be limited for those without connections

This particular school is fee-paying and massively oversubscribed. Its admission policy states that places are offered first to those in ‘priority groups’ which include brothers of past or current pupils, sons, grandsons or nephews of past pupils, sons of staff members and close relatives of members of the religious order which runs the school.

This year, over two thirds of the places in the school were offered to those in priority groups before anyone else was considered. Our son, with no brothers and a non-Irish dad, only ever stood an outside chance of being offered a place. Sure enough, we recently received a ‘thanks for your interest’ letter.

We also applied to two non fee-paying local schools but we have had no success there either. Their admission policies also favour sons and/or brothers of past pupils. Our boy is near the bottom of the waiting list in one of these schools. Things were looking more hopeful in the other, where he is higher on the list. But alas, they received more than the usual number of applications from siblings this year, and have told us they will only be offering ‘one or two’ places to those on the waiting list.

Last week the Equality Tribunal ruled that a Clonmel school’s admission policy, which gives priority to sons or brothers of past pupils, is discriminatory. Details are here: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2010/1210/1224285195609.html

This ruling may force schools to review their admission policies, though I have a feeling it will be strongly resisted. In the meantime, we have made late applications to three more schools and are keeping everything crossed.

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Like many people in Ireland on Monday, I spent the day in a state of near-paralysis. I had the radio permanently tuned to news and current affairs programmes. It was almost impossible to tear myself away from Twitter. Because I follow a lot of people in the Irish media and journalism, the tweets were pouring onto my screen so fast I could hardly keep up.

No way out? (Photo: Associated News US)

There was endless media analysis of what our European bailout/loan/whatever will mean, how much we will finally borrow, links to the apocalyptic headlines Ireland is making around the world. Irish bank shares were down, Portuguese bond yields were up. Political upheaval followed financial upheaval. Rumours of a big announcement from Government junior partners, the Green Party. Later in the day, more rumours – this time of an announcement from the Taoiseach at 7pm. My children waited in vain for their dinner as I sat in front of the TV to hear what he had to say.

I don’t understand economics or high finance, so what did I learn from mainlining all this news? That this teetering Government needs to hang on grimly, long enough to get the budget passed on 7th December. This is because the budget is already a done deal, the €6 billion in cuts is already agreed with the IMF. If the budget fails, the deal is off. But the deal is essential to keep our banks afloat. Despite the billions upon billions that we have already thrown into their gaping maws, Irish banks, like heroin addicts, need another fix. This time, a fix of another €30 billion or so. Banks normally borrow money at 1% interest rates. But nobody is willing to lend to our banks anymore, so we are borrowing it at 5% on their behalf. We’ll be paying this back, along with the countless other billions we are borrowing, for generations.

That’s my no doubt simplistic understanding of the situation today. My reaction to all this is; what have I done to my children?

It was all so different ten years ago when I returned to Ireland with my husband and first child, after 14 years away. The grim and depressed country I had emigrated from in the 80s was a distant memory. Ireland had changed; it was vibrant, young and optimistic. Things were on the up.

I had been very happy with life in London, but felt a strong urge to return to Ireland once we started a family. I had to work hard to persuade my non-Irish husband to move here, and our first few years were completely tied up with work. He set up a new dental surgery in the north inner city and worked hard to build it up from nothing. He gave me a crash course in dental nursing and dental reception and I did both jobs until we could afford to start employing people.

Working long hours and having a young family meant we were largely off the social scene and we both found it difficult to adjust. But we had a loving family here, and that made all the upheaval worthwhile.

Things settled down and the surgery established itself. After the first few years we stopped leasing the surgery building and took out a huge loan to buy it. We worried about taking on so much debt, but the economy was booming and the future looked bright.

At the same time, I wondered why my children’s schools were so run down. Why did I find myself helping out at so many school fundraisers? Why do Irish parents, almost alone in Europe, have to pay for school books? It was a shock having to pay so much for GP appointments, even for children. Having a long-term medical condition which I knew would eventually require surgery, I guiltily purchased private medical insurance so that I could skip the public queues when the time came. As a middle class person in Ireland, it’s just accepted that that’s what you do. But with all the money swilling around, why were public health and education services not being radically reformed? Given the state we are in now, there is little hope that this will ever happen.

The events of the last two years have been disastrous for Ireland but we have been lucky compared to so many others. We have had to make cutbacks at the surgery, following large cuts to publicly funded dentistry in recent budgets. No doubt there are more to come, but we are hopeful that we can put our heads down, work hard and get through.

But what of my two young children? The country in which I actively chose to bring them up is a sorry mess, an international laughing-stock. I am worried for their future and dread the day when they may be forced to take the same journey I took back in the 80s. And if they do, I will bitterly regret my decision to move back here.

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Prince William is such a cheapskate. Why’d he give Kate his mum’s old engagement ring?
His dead mum’s old engagement ring.

The ring that launched a thousand flicks...

His unhappily married mum’s engagement ring.
His broken-hearted mum’s old engagement ring.
His divorced mum’s old engagement ring.
His cuckolded mum’s old engagement ring.
His vilified, ostracised mum’s old engagement ring.
His canonised, sainted mum’s old engagement ring.
The People’s Princess’s old engagement ring.
The ring that launched a thousand flicks…
It may be “priceless”, but poor Kate is certainly going to pay a heavy price, because if every a ring came with an unbearable weight, then this is it. So why, William, why?
Because, he says, “obviously” his mum couldn’t be there so he thought it would be a “quite nice” way to have her involved in all the wedding “fun”. Oh, jolly hockey sticks!
Yes well, I’m sure it’s fun for him, but for Kate, with her tight, bright smile, determined tweed and perma-blowdry, with her nickname of Waity-Katie after years perched in her parents’ home/ivory tower awaiting this benighted proposal, always terrified of putting a foot wrong, with the insults cast at her parents because they actually earned their money and didn’t inherit it, with the sneers about her mother being an air hostess, the sniggers of “doors to manual and cross-check”, with the finger-pointing at her partying sister Pippa, with the nastiness when Kate was photographed in hotpants falling off her skates at a charity roller-disco (looking happier than she has before or since), with years of mortifying protocol insisting she leaves weddings and clubs sans her fella, with the stoic silence she’s always kept even when dumped, with everything she’s done — and doubtless not done — to prove she’s suitable queenly material, I reckon it’s been anything but fun.

Maybe she thought the fun would start with the ring, with the fairytale wedding, with forging her own path as a real princess, fighting her own corner, eventually able to stand up for what she believes in, to make a difference where she chooses, to reap the benefits of finally being legally tied to the royals, and not just left to sit primly on the sidelines knowing you could be tossed aside at the whim of a dandy, forever famous for being jilted.
But no, instead Prince Charming hands Kate Middleton the baton of martyrdom and the burden of his sainted mother, of everybody’s Lady Di.
Gee. A clean slate might have been nice.
And she can’t even pawn the ring if it all falls apart.

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There never was a truer proverb than “ignorance is bliss”; certainly, the daily trawl through the news sites can take years off a life. It’s a topic I turn to constantly in late-night discussions – is knowledge an essential weapon, or a poisoned chalice? Are we better people for knowing the dank corners of a life gone awry, or is curiosity really the Achilles heel to an otherwise purring pussycat? Yes. Note that when I say “late-night”, I obviously mean so late the cows are heading out again, and when I say “discussion”,  I’m really referring to drunken flame wars with similarly battle-scarred snobs. Such is the pomposity of my posse.

Anyway, the point is that each day is made up of weighty and depressing events, so even the most analytical can be forgiven for turning to the gossip columns, the ents pages, the frothy stuff from time to time, just to take a load off. I do like to cast a narrowed eye over cavorting celebrities, now and then, even though I know it’s an empty pursuit, even though my time would be better spent giving myself an eyeball scraping or beading the guest bedroom curtains. Sometimes I enjoy an indulgent slither into stupidity. Sue me.

Which is why I know that this week there were much, much more depressing, crucial stories than Wayne Rooney’s cheating on wife Coleen with a blabbermouth call-girl. And yet this silly piece of celebrity goss really got to me. It dug its glossy little claws in and refused to let go. In truth, I care very little about what goes on in other people’s marriages; each couple has their own way of looking at their relationship and their place in the wider world, and all of the hand-wringing your claws can spin through won’t change that. What bothered me about this sorry tale was the details of the naughty succubus, a young woman called Jennifer Thompson, who went to the tabloids with the particulars of her business relationship with Rooney and, presumably, was paid well to spill the beans.

There’s no point rehashing the story again. The Daily Mail and The News Of The World and The Sun will tell you all you need to know. In summation, though, we have a spoilt young man with more money than he could possibly know what to do with, and a healthy, educated young woman with a supportive family, making absolute twats of themselves on a very public stage.

And I can see no advantage for either party here. In the past, girls n’ fellas who resorted to the kiss n’ tell got themselves a substantial cheque and a saucy two-page spread in the paper, which was as happy a boon as the fame-hungry but talentless could expect from temporarily relegating themselves to a mindless sex object in a fetching pair of kecks. In this instance, though, Jennifer Thompson has told the world that she’s not only a wannabe-WAG, but a prostitute, a revelation the majority of your peers will judge you for, whether or not they liked Billie Piper’s turn in Belle Du Jour. It’s like telling your neighbours you sell heroin, or get off on crushing porn (that’s “crushing” porn, not using your steely determination to bring down Hugh Hefner and all he stands for); people aren’t going to see it as one of your good points. And sure enough, the tabloids have now plundered Thompson’s Facebook page for her holiday snaps, photos of her and her mum, details of her friends, their photographs. She’s been painted as a desperate party-girl, happy to sell her body to fund her hedonistic lifestyle because she’s far too self-centred and lazy to get a real job. Thompson’s father has even made a public statement apologising to Coleen Rooney! Surely this could not have been what Thompson was after when she sold the story of her relationship with the famous footballer? Surely she didn’t expect and accept that she would be called a “£1,200-a-night vice girl”, that her beloved father would be headlined all over the country as “Hooker’s Dad, Hamish”. But if not … Jesus, what did she think would happen? The mind doesn’t just boggle, it separates, scrambles and serves itself up on toast.

It’s difficult to feel sorry for the girl; I’m not as altruistic as all that. I just cannot figure out how anyone would choose to put themselves through the gleeful condemnation of her country, and beyond, just for the price of a new car.

As for Rooney, it’s not so difficult to understand how he could have wedged himself into such a torrid little corner. He’s not going to be called a dirty slapper for engaging in threesomes with pretty prostitutes, and his fans care only for his prowess on the pitch. Having said that, he must be feeling the deep embarrassment he’s brought on his young wife, the mother of his baby son. So why, then, compromise his home life for the wannabe WAG, the party girl christened “Premier League Jenny” because of her taste in partners? What do these daft footballers think is going to happen when they cheat with fame-hungry hangers-on? I know they pay extra for it, but do they really expect discretion?

I’m no old crone, myself; I’m in my twenties too, so it’s not as if Thompson and Rooney’s generation is something wildly alien to me. Still, it depresses the stuffing out of me that we’ve become so celebrity-obsessed, so into the pursuit of fame, that we’ll trade it all for a night with a recommended call girl or a bone thrown from a tabloid newspaper.

Then, I am reading all of this crap from gossip websites, am I not? Oh, tis a vicious circle and no mistake, and not a clever one to loop into, after all.

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I remember the first time I saw a woman in Dublin wearing a burqa. It was May, 2003; the final day of my third-year college exams. I was sitting on the footpath on the South Circular Road, doing some last-minute revision. As I was skimming through my notes, I noticed what appeared to be a large mound of black material trundling in my direction. It took me a second or two to realise that the mound was, in fact, a human being. The figure’s height and outline were the only visible clues as to its gender: limbs, torso, neck and head were all covered in heavy fabric and even the woman’s face was hidden behind a dark meche. Beside her, walked two little boys in white summer outfits. I found the whole scene pretty depressing.

The next time I saw any form of veil at close quarters was a couple of years later, when I was in England studying for a Masters degree. While I was there, I lived with thirteen other women, including two Muslims, both of whom wore a hijab to cover their hair and neckline. Since it was an all-female house, both of the women frequently took off their hijab indoors but it was expected that we would warn them in advance if we were having any male visitors so they could cover up. One evening, a friend of mine arrived into the kitchen unannounced, which resulted in much consternation and at least one woman hiding behind a fridge.

Both D. (a lawyer from Malaysia, whose parents were extremely disappointed when she began to wear a veil) and Z. (a bubbly divorcée from Jordan) felt that wearing the hijab was a demonstration of their commitment to their faith but neither felt any religious requirement to cover her face or to wear a burqa. Both regarded the burqa as a cultural, rather than a religious garment, the wearing of which was not demanded by the Qu’ran.

The practical differences between the hijab and the burqa or niqab are huge and, personally, I think that the recent banning of the latter garments by the French parliament is a positive step for human rights. It’s not a question of racism, intolerance or Islamophobia – it’s about identity, which, in any State, is both a right and an obligation. In his arguments in favour of the ban, President Sarkozy stated that “the defining duty of French citizenship is to engage with ones fellow citizens, which is to say, to engage face to face in the public sphere and in the workplace, the metro, the market”. No woman whose face is covered (even if its covering hasn’t been imposed on her) can expect to play a full and active role in public life – I certainly can’t imagine a scenario in which men would be granted the dubious privilege of wandering around in public wearing a mask.

With all this in mind, I was surprised to see David Mitchell, in his Observer column, speaking out against any equivalent ban in the UK:

Governments and legislatures shouldn’t tell people what they can and can’t wear… As long as people aren’t wearing crotchless jeans outside primary schools or deely boppers with attached sparklers on petrol station forecourts, we’ve all got the right to wear exactly what the hell we like and I can barely believe that we’re having this debate.

But we are. Stupid people are thinking about an issue that doesn’t need to be thought about and a YouGov survey says 67% of us want full-face veils outlawed. Just when I thought my estimation of humanity couldn’t fall any further, I discover that two-thirds of my fellow countrymen are, or at least were for the duration of taking a survey, morons.

The reality is that people are told what they can and can’t wear all the time, sometimes by governments and legislatures. We can’t wear crotchless jeans outside primary schools, we can’t wear sunglasses when we’re having our passport photos taken and we can’t expect to engage with bureaucracy while wearing a balaclava. What’s so special about a burqa?

Aoife Kelleher

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It’s a very sad day when one of Ireland’s finest independent record stores, Road Records, announces it is to close down, its valiant fight against the recession and digital music sadly having come to an end.

And it’s also sad (but in a rather different way) when some of its own customers use a post on The Irish Time’s On The Record blog about the demise of the much-loved shop to comment about the fact they “never saw any girls in there”.

“There are always as many under 20s flipping thru the vinyls down the back as there are older beardy blokes. road, unfortunately, wasn’t as enticing for the non-beardy, huggy student types. or girls. only girls i ever saw in road were julie and my girlfriend who stood at the door looking bored on record store day.” – Peter

“Peter – have to agree to an extent with you, I think Julie was the only woman I ever saw in Road Records and my wife for example loves music but hates record shops.” – part time punk

Road Records was a welcoming place to men, women and children – any Saturday I ventured in there I’d see at least one parent with a cute sticky-fingered child in tow – and it was never a shop that made you feel you were ‘just a girl’ when buying records.

But this sad and sexist attitude that some of the commenters on On The Record hold about Road, and the apparent lack of female customers it (and other record stores) attracted, is thankfully an outdated one.

I’m a woman – I don’t think I can call myself a girl now that I’m inching closer to 30, can I ‘boys’? – who, like many of you reading this, has been ‘properly’ shopping in record stores since I was a teen. When I first started buying in Plugd in Cork, I used to get nervous before I’d go in, a little worried about my purchase, wanting to look ‘cool’. A positive comment from one of the staff members would have made my day. I knew as a girl I was in a minority there, but I was never made to feel like I was ‘just a girl’, or that girls were not welcome. As I got older, and as Plugd’s Jim and Albert became friends, I’d ask them for recommendations and go to the shop to meet other friends and see what they were buying. When Plugd closed last year, Cork lost a little bit of its soul.

I worked in Redlight Records in Galway for a little while and got to see things from the other side of the counter – and loved getting to recommend albums to people.  I loved even more having albums recommended to me. Because that’s what independent record stores are for – they’re for learning about music and salivating over new finds, badgering the staff for recommendations and teasing your friends about their choices.

But there are some people who may feel a little intimidated going into independent record stores – especially when they’re young and don’t feel they know much about music. And this attitude that ‘women don’t go to record shops’, even if held by a small minority, needs to be quashed – because it certainly doesn’t encourage more young women (and yes, girls) to go to them.

It ties into the patronising, sexist assumption that women just don’t know enough about music, that we’re not interested in back catalogues or rare records, that we’d rather listen to Lady Gaga than Throbbing Gristle (hell, some even listen to both), and that we’re more interested in being groupies than listeners.

But the truth is,  we’re just as devastated to see another independent record store go – and wondering what can be done about it.  So why not silence those who assume women didn’t shop in Road and add your voice here?

(And as for sleeping with a band member? Some of us would rather rifle through his record collection.)

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As  Mosney residents continue to protest against the transfer of 111 people to different hostels across Ireland, an Irish Facebook group is migrating its own brand of racist invective. [Atrocious grammar in the following is not my own]:

Stop scaming the State, GET THEM ALL OUT, And reopen it for the Irish! – Janice Smith, Baldoyle.

There money grabbing foreıgners tat are responsıble for mst of the problems in tis country – Ray Kelly.

A fat arse politıon open the gates gve them houses for FREE money FREE taxis FREE dıd ya see the cars at mosney i dıd my mate lives near it oh and childrens allowance for theır NONE irish brats – Janice Smith (again).

They will be relocated to somewere else with beds, water, cooker, food, clothes. The homeless Irish in Dublin do not have it this good…They should be forced out, Its not their land – Shane Donnelly, Dublin.

The country barely has a pot to piss in yet they are probably spending millions of taxpayers money on this group of people to be shacked up in mosney – John Clarke, Artane.

The Irish Government gave away a great amenity when they gave Mosney Holiday Camp to asylum seekers without any consultation with the Irish people – Anne Donnelly.

What about the normal irish person out of work now with kids that need a summer holiday we should have it back to ourselfs now and let them look after themselfs – Michael Murphy, Limerick.

What started out as a ‘happy memories’ lament to the traditional Irish holiday of the 1970s/80s, soon turned to racist rants from some of the 5,000-strong Support The Reopening of Mosney group. Since news broke about the Monsey residents last week, a dangerous herd mentality began stomping and tail-swishing in the Irish breeze. Back in 2000, when Mosney’s doors shut for good, hardly anyone ranted and raved or protested at all. They were too busy sunning themselves on cheap package holidays in Majorca, Ayia Napa, Turkey and Bundoran. Of course there were the odd few…like Alderman Frank Godfrey, Mayor of Drogheda, who expressed ‘concerns’ about the local area turning into a ‘ghetto’, and a couple of letters from locals were published in the Irish press.

No-one questioned Fianna Fail’s decision, for instance, to award Mosney owner Phelim McCloskey £15 million [Irish pounds] for leasing the 300 acres and its facilities to the Department of Justice for a five year period. The most pressing concern was where to accommodate the much-loved Community Games that had always been held at Mosney. Bertie came to the rescue and ordered alternative venues in case the housing of ‘refugees’ meant the holiday camp was not available for the games. Apart from that, the transition to a holding camp for asylum seekers barely lasted the month as a news or feature item.

The dour relationship between recession and racism is not new or even news. Since the recession has cosied down like an evil-smelling blanket over Ireland in the last two years, racist incidents (and attacks) have increased at an alarming rate. Just yesterday a new Racist Incidents Support and Referral Service was announced. One of the founders, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy told the Irish Examiner: “For too long, Ireland has been in denial about the racist incidents occurring in our communities and our collective responsibility to combat racism. We know from our experience working with migrants who have experienced racism that people are subjected to violence and threats of violence, have their property damaged and are subjected to racist taunts and discrimination”.

It is the usual yack, that when recession worsens, those who feel most vulnerable look for people to blame and immigrants, foreigners, asylum seekers, basically anyone marginalised, become easy targets. The result is a virulent undercurrent of social unrest and tension, leading to the type of brain-dead rants found on the Mosney Facebook group. Interestingly, there is a total absence of cussed comments towards the real originators of the bust: property developers, banks, politicians. Let’s also be fair here: the Facebook group’s admin are folk with good intention whose message is quite simple: ‘please join this group to share happy memories of the camp and let’s hope one day it [Mosney] reopens’.

Recently, through its membership, the Irish section of the European Network against Racism had cause to insist that Facebook remove a similar group that was using the platform to racially abuse members of the Travelling Community. “Eventually Facebook complied and deleted the group,” explains Ken McCue, International Officer of Sport against Racism Ireland (SARI). “We’ve asked the Gardaí to investigate the Mosney group on Facebook but their powers are limited as it’s published in the US. However, I have reported this hate attack to the Gardaí and ENAR.”

Yesterday after reading the comments on the site I phoned a journalist pal who’d recently been to Mosney to interview some of the residents for a UK paper. He was incensed as I read out some of the malevolent messages splattered all over the group’s wall. “While I was at Mosney I met doctors, engineers, all kinds of professionals that would do anything to work and contribute to Irish society but are not being put to good use because the bureaucratic process is a mess,” he said.

He also talked about a footballer from Africa who coaches young Irish kids for free, using his own pittance to get out and train them. “I was also hugely impressed at how clean the Mosney flats were, even the stairwells were spotless unlike native Irish ones which are reeking of piss, covered in graffiti and strewn with used needles.”

The fact that the Mosney residents are not allowed rent or own property, they are only allowed stay in these hostels…that they live on €19 per week, and cannot work, or that the money to accommodate them stems from EU funds, seems to have alluded most of the ranters on the Mosney site. And let’s be clear on this €19 for the plelthora of ignorami out there who’ve never bothered asking how the payment is chopped up or made. On an asylum seeker’s social welfare receipt, there’s the full whack of €196 per week allocated that any Irish unemployed person gets…minus €177 that goes direct to the landlord on behalf of the State. And guess who’s in bed with the state when it comes to choosing/allocating landlords and accommodation? Very good, you’ve guessed right: property developers, investors, business folk, etc., the real ‘money grabbers’ who made handy lucrative deals with government to provide this much needed shelter. Make no mistake, the asylum process here is an enormous business machine and one of the few going concerns in Ireland right now in a constant state of profit.

By contrast to the reams of racist tripe we’ve been hearing of late, a letter in today’s Irish Times mirrors what a lot of ordinary Irish people feel about the plight of the residents: ‘It is bad enough that these most vulnerable of people must put their lives on hold for up to seven years while the Department of Justice decides their fate, but to herd them around like cattle from one holding pen to another is an outrage. Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern and his officials should hang their heads in shame,’ it read.

Mags Treanor, a poet from Galway, who has worked with asylum seekers, has reported the Facebook page to the authorities for incitement to hatred. “To hear that people [on this site] actually think asylum seekers are the cause of the current economic situation and not the greedy Irish business people who creamed money from the state for using it as an accommodation facility is absolutely ridiculous,” she said.

Around 96% of refugees in Ireland have their initial asylum applications rejected under a system human rights campaigners have denounced as “inhumane”. Only Greece has a lower rate of accepting asylum seekers in the EU, taking in just 1.2% of refugees, according to the European commission body Eurostat. In the UK, 26.9% of asylum applications were accepted upon application last year. On appeal, those numbers rose to an estimated 30% for the UK, but to only 7.8% in Ireland, Eurostat said. [Source: The Guardian]

While the people of Mosney have yet to find out their fate, the racist underclass in Ireland continues to lobby for the return of their holiday camp, which in my memory at least, was famed for its floating turds in the glass-encasaed swimming pool, karaoke (before karaoke machines) and greasy chips in polystyrene cones. In all reality this latest round of Facebook ‘comments’ is nothing to do with feeling sentimental about a budget holiday destination or about expressing how broke and marginalised, frightened and powerless, people feel during recession. It is about blame and ignorance and stupidity and how the moral impunity of social networking allows hate to thrive.

“The five years given to house asylum seekers is up and that’s that,” writes Sarah Heavey. Her opinion is fairly typical of many who have left messages so far: “Either re-house them like planned or send them home. I am not racist and I truly sympathise with them, but Ireland is in financial ruin now and reopening Mosney will provide much-needed employment, as well as providing holidays for people.”

Please take the time to register your distaste for the racist voices on the Facebook page here

June Caldwell is a writer, who after 13 years of journalism, is finally writing a novel. She has a MA in Creative Writing and was winner of ‘Best Blog Post’ award at the 2011 Irish Blog Awards. You can read this post on her own blog here:

 

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