A racist sign in County Tyrone drew wide-spread attention. Photo by: Reddit.com

Acts of racism in Ireland show short memories of Irish everywhere


A racist sign in County Tyrone drew wide-spread attention. Photo by: Reddit.com

Two racist advertisements in Ireland have caused public outcry online as immigrant representatives claim racism is on the rise in Ireland.

Despite the Irish people's history of being the victims of racism, and the Ireland's ongoing tradition of immigration to countries around the globe, it seems that Ireland’s relationship with foreign nationals is worsening. The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) reports that there was an 85 percent rise in the number of reports of racism in 2013.

The first offending advertisement, which has since been removed, was a poster placed on a telephone post in County Tyrone. The ad, posted on Reddit, warned landlords not to lease their properties to foreigners.

It read “Attention landlords: Leasing property to foreign nationals will not be tolerated.”

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said they “were made aware of a sign having been erected on a pole at the entrance to Hillcrest Park, Moygashel.” It has since been removed.

The other instance was seen on the classifieds website Donedeal.ie. The ad, posted in County Limerick, warned that the individual would not sell his car to “foreigners.”

It read “No Polish. I will not sell this car to a foreigner. They want everything for nothing so they can sell it for twice what they paid, so don’t ring. Irish people only," the Irish Independent reported.

The ICI has said advertisements such as this are appearing at an alarming rate.

The spokesperson said “These incidents are completely unacceptable. Unfortunately they’re coming at the end of a 12-month period where the ICI reported an 85 percent increase in the reports of racism during 2013.

“They show we need to be vigilant and ensure all of our laws and regulations are robust enough to respond to these crimes.”

The spokesperson said 12 percent of all racist incidents relate to cyber racism, such as the ad placed on Donedeal.ie.

He added that “the poster in Tyrone is a matter for the PSNI to investigate and prosecute.”

These instances in Ireland call to mind similar racist slights against the Irish abroad in recent years.

In 2012, the Irish community around the globe was incensed by an advertisement posted on the classifieds website Gumtree in Perth, Australia. It read “Bricklayer needed ASAP. $250 a day, no part-time workers and NO IRISH”.

Alas, it turned out that the man who placed the ad was Irish!

This advert’s “NO IRISH” statement is reminiscent of the language used in British cities during the 1950s and in the United States during the Great Famine and onwards. More recently, in 2010, “No Irish need apply” signs were seen on Polish building sites. It was said that these signs were to take revenge on unscrupulous Irish builders who had treated their Polish staff badly.

In the United States even more recently, in December 2013, IrishCentral reported that the student travel site USIT, is warning students who might travel to to work in the United States during the summer 2014 to avoid Chicago.

Their documents say “USIT advise participants not to travel to Chicago on the J-1 program due to lack of suitable accommodation and potential job offers which may make their experience that more difficult.” The company gave no explanation for this statement, despite being contacted. However, it is believed landlords were unwilling to rent to Irish because of destruction and wild parties in many apartments.

Despite the fact that in 2013 approximately 250 people left each day, and despite Ireland’s history of emigration, the Irish have not learned from the past.

Perhaps they need a reminder of Ireland’s own history with emigration and as victims of racism. As former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."


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