British police officers in Wales have been slammed for naming their school educational programme on dog poop, taught at primary schools, “Operation Irish.”
An angry parent contacted the local press after the community education programme was brought to his child’s school in Llanedeyrn, in Cardiff.
Also Lila Haines, an Irish grandmother who has lived in Wales for nearly 40 years, said “I’m horrified that anyone could think it appropriate to allow a connection to be made between dog mess and Irish people. It’s particularly insensitive in a city where it has been estimated that up to 30% of the population are of Irish descent.
“I can’t imagine what they were thinking of – such a gaffe is inevitably going to give rise to allegations of racism.
“I know the police like to come up with imaginative names for their operations, but you wouldn’t expect them to come up with anything as crass as this.”
The irate father, who first highlighted the story, told WalesOnline, “Obviously it’s a good idea to educate children about the danger of dog mess. But when I heard the exercise had been named Operation Irish, I thought it was outrageous. It’s like a throwback to earlier centuries, when Irish people were portrayed as monkeys or sub-human creatures.
“For a police force to use a name of this kind in such a connection is beyond belief. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”
He stated the attitude evoked from the name is reminiscent of the racism felt against the Irish in British cities during the 1950s and in the United States during the Great Hunger when signs would be seen in shop fronts which read “Help wanted, no Irish need apply”. The angry father also referred to the Irish being portrayed as sub-human echoing back to the satirical and racist cartoons of Thomas Nast, which showed the Irish as an almost simian race.
Newport West Labour politician, Paul Flynn, a descendant of Irish immigrants, said “The choice of Operation Irish as the name for an educational programme about dog mess is an act of Olympian stupidity.”
South Wales Police spokeswoman confirmed the initiative was called “Operation Irish.”
She added, “This is an educational operation aimed at encouraging dog owners to be responsible. Operational names are randomly assigned to policing operations for administrative purposes. They do not in any way reflect the nature of the police activity or subject matter.
“It would never be our intention to offend and it is regrettable if that is the case.”