Friday, January 06, 2006

Unnoticed Racial Scare Mongering

If someone in Irish politics started racial scare mongering. You would think that the media would be hounding that person. You would think the likes of Vincent Browne and the Blogs would be baying for blood. However all is quiet. Why?

During the citizenship referendum the media was very vocal in its criticism of the government. Using the racism word frequently. Now they are largely quiet. However I think I know why. By the second last paragraph of this post many people will be utterly shocked at these quotes and wondering why this has been so quiet in the media and be baying for blood.

In an interview with the Irish Times Michael McDowell mentioned

“The time may be coming when we will have to sit down and examine whether we would have to look at whether a works permit regime ought to be implemented in terms of some of this non-national labour, even for countries in the EU.”

Now I have no problem with a non-EU countries work permit scheme at all as long as the workers get the permits not the employers. However if you ask anyone what is the main principle of the EU it is the free movement of goods and LABOUR. So basically Michael McDowell is saying that a time may come when we will have to renegotiate Ireland membership of the EU. I sincerely doubt that the rest of the EU countries would allow us to even think of this. Yet a man who I guess wants to the deputy leader of this country is considering suggesting changing the EU’s founding rules. Without the free movement of goods services and labour what is the EU.

So Michael McDowell wants to consider restricting legitimate non-national workers entering Ireland.

But that is not the worst thing he said in the interview. Now if you ever wondered what racial scare mongering is. Here is a classic example.

“There are many positive spin-offs from the diversity of labour here now but to say that that should for all time go unregulated I think has been thrown into question by the Irish Ferries dispute. There are 40 million or so Poles after all, so it is an issue we have to have a look at.”

The sentence “There are 40 million or so Poles after all” is a very vindictive line. This is formed purely to pry on the racist beliefs of people that believe we are been infested by Poles.

So why you asked has this been fairly quiet. Any ideas? I’m not entirely sure but if I pointed out that the above quotes were in fact were said by Pat Rabbitte on Tuesday and not Michael McDowell would it perhaps help explain the lack of baying for blood in the media. The only blog I could find mentioning this is ceadaoin and Indymedia have statement from Joe Higgins but no editorials.I seen haven't any condemnation from any columnists in the papers. (haven't read every paper though.)

Or am I becomeing a cynic in my old age and turning into a bit of a McDowell cheerleader.

Edit: I must say sorry to Vincent Browne as he did write about the topic in the Sunday Business Post. All though not as strongly worded I think if it had been McDowell. Still fair play.

17 comments:

Cian said...

your quite right, i heard that interview (well one of them on Matt Cooper with Constantine ...) It seemed to be that Rabbitte was talking about the restraint of the free movement of labour. My initial reaction was that, if he is arguing this he is indeed wrong headed.
I might counter (for fairness) he may have meant imposing the same restraints other EU states are allowed up to 7 years.
I still think those are unnecessary. We dont need to stop anyone settling here once the minimum wage is respected in terms of their pay-and that is not even their responsibility.
Your dead right only at the time it didnt click in the way you seemed to hit on it.

Frank said...

Simon,

The issue is about economic migrants into Ireland. The issue is also about how they are treateed here, and also the dislocating effect of this migration on the families and societies thay have left behind, and also the slave-owner mentality that is becoming so established in Ireland.

I don't believe the overused term 'racism' applies in this discussion.

Irish and British employers, including private individuals who hire foreigners as childminders, house cleaners, or sex slaves, are just as adept at abusing their own nationals. This is the real issue as far as I'm concerned, as is the associated job displacement.

The sooner the 'R' word is decommissioned, the better for reasoned and serious debate. But do-good lefty sloganeers and media types aren't really interested in debating, only in hectoring.

Fair play to McDowell and Rabbitte

Simon said...

so frank

do you see anything wrong with the There are 40 million poles quote.

pat Rabbitte was not refering to the lives of the migrants only the lives of people already here.

Timmy said...

"However if you ask anyone what is the main principle of the EU it is the free movement of goods and LABOUR. So basically Michael McDowell is saying that a time may come when we will have to renegotiate Ireland membership of the EU."

Don't confuse principles with practice. Current policy on the movement of EU workers into this country could be reviewed and revised to bring it into line with that of other EU states. This wouldn't require a renegotiation of EU membership on our part.

"The issue is about economic migrants into Ireland. The issue is also about how they are treateed here, and also the dislocating effect of this migration on the families and societies thay have left behind, and also the slave-owner mentality that is becoming so established in Ireland."

Dislocation has been minimised by cheap flights between this country and Eastern Europe. Notions of a "race to the bottom" are hyped and shamelessly exploited by vested interests like the unions. There's no objective evidence suggesting a correlation between increased migration and depressed wages. Something like 40% of workers changed jobs last year, a remarkable figure and one that belies notions about this country becoming a "slaveholding economy". That being said the current work permit system needs to be replaced with a green card system post haste.

"Irish and British employers, including private individuals who hire foreigners as childminders, house cleaners, or sex slaves, are just as adept at abusing their own nationals. This is the real issue as far as I'm concerned, as is the associated job displacement."

Whether job displacement (that is native workers being forced out of employment by cheaper non-nationals) is an actual phenomenon is debatable, to say the least. Pat Rabitte mentioned the meat industry and construction, two sectors I've worked in over the past few years. As the economy here took off and opportunities increased Irish people became less willing to take on physically arduous jobs in abattoirs or building sites. This has been the experience of all developed economies. If Pat Rabbitte feels job displacement is such an issue then he should be able to cite something more concrete than anecdotal evidence.

We're promised a severe frost tonight. So how many people here would find the idea of rising tomorrow at seven, arriving on a wet, frigid building site and mixing cement all day long faintly appealling? Has anyone here considered a career slaughtering and eviscerating livestock? Did Pat Rabbitte put his daughter through grind school so she could erect scaffolding or de-bone carcasses?

Simon said...

Something like 40% of workers changed jobs last year,
It is actually 10% I think.

It is an interesting point though the rest of it.Especially Did Pat Rabbitte put his daughter through grind school so she could erect scaffolding or de-bone carcasses? I wonder what porportion of labour tds did not go to collage.

Some like Michael Lowery never did the leaving cert. Yet he manage to organinse much of the Feile concerts and many other things in his constituency. And extensions to his house.

Frank said...

Simon, Timmy

I regard Poles and Irish as belonging to the Caucasian race. I see nothing wrong with saying there are 40 million Poles, if it is true, but I recognise the point you make on scaremongering about being swamped.

If that kind of talk was linked to actual cases of foreigners being targeted or demonised, I'd have a rethink. The fact is, foreign workers in Ireland are being abused in all sorts of ways, including by fellow workers as well as managers. So are Irish workers. So Pat Rabbitte and his bosses in Siptu deserve support.

I think people should be able to go and work wherever they wish, particularly within their own continent, but the slogan 'this economy needs workers' always struck me as creating of an abusive attitude.

The issue of the 40 million is a serious point. I heard a former employer of mine talk about having found a limitless source of labour a few years ago - Chinese people. They were prepared to accept a lower standard of pay, management and HR practice than the locals. They were also pleasant and hard-working, and the customers liked most of them. I supervised lots of them in the job. However, they were only a sticking plaster on a seriously flawed business, and that employer is now gone on to other things. So the issue of displacement is not just about headline pay rates, it is also about how businesses are run and how they view their staff and customers. A large number of foreigners working in Ireland are paid below the minimum wage via various loopholes eg living in, ortrainee positions.

On the question of Irish peoples unwillingness to do some jobs, I can only say that I have been taking the early bus to work on cold mornings this winter and there's no shortage of men of all ages turning to each morning for building work, and they even smile and make cheerful talk as they go. And when meat processing factories in Cork were being closed down last year the people complaining about lost livelihoods were locals. There are about 160,000 people on the Live Register, and our priority should be about rehabilitating the excluded into mainstream employment, not perpetuating a hire and fire mentality through the non-commital use of foreign casuals.

BlastFurnace said...

Thanks for visiting my site again. Very interesting thoughts about this issue. It doesn't even come on the radar screen in discussions about NAFTA, which isn't even really free trade but a managed trade agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico.

It says almost squat about work permits in the other member states which still must be applied as if you were someone on the other side of either of the ponds. It's doubtless going to be the next phase of talks about closer relations like the EU has -- it's just a question of when, not if.

phdbird said...

I agree that the permits should be given to workers, not employers. A couple of years ago I worked with a Polish girl who felt she had to work every hour our employee asked her to, in order to keep her job and stay in Ireland. I wasnt surprised at all when I heard about what was going on at Irish Ferries.

winds said...

Simon,

just anecdotally, when I was living in Belgium, France and Germany, I had to get a residence permit, the acquisition of which was made increasingly easy by having a job. To be frank, the messiest system to deal with was the Belgian system.

Effectively, the deal with work permits within the EU, or EC as it was when I started at this migrating lark was that while your host country could insist on you having a work permit or residence permit, they couldn't refuse you one if you were an EU citizen. But the country was entitled to compel you to carry a piece of paper if they wanted.

Possibly we get a little more excited over it here because we're not compelled to carry an ID of any description except a) when driving and b) trying to leave the country to go somewhere other than the UK whereas in most European countries you must carry ID with you at all times.

Timmy said...

The Saint said:

"Something like 40% of workers changed jobs last year,
It is actually 10% I think."

I stand to be corrected on that.

"It is an interesting point though the rest of it.Especially Did Pat Rabbitte put his daughter through grind school so she could erect scaffolding or de-bone carcasses? I wonder what porportion of labour tds did not go to collage."

I don't know, although reading "The Popes Children" by David McWilliams it appears that Labour Party voters have the highest incomes, after the Greens.

"If that kind of talk was linked to actual cases of foreigners being targeted or demonised, I'd have a rethink. The fact is, foreign workers in Ireland are being abused in all sorts of ways, including by fellow workers as well as managers. So are Irish workers. So Pat Rabbitte and his bosses in Siptu deserve support."

Pat Rabbitte and SIPTU deserve nothing but contempt. Rabbitte was vociferous in his opposition to the citizen referendum. Now he's calling for restrictions to be placed on EU citizens ability to work here, with nothing but heresay in support. SIPTU couldn't give a fig for most workers here, native or otherwise. These are the people who've been gouging their fellow workers behind closed doors (a process of theft euphemistically called benchmarking), and thne have the brass neck to sermonise on equality. No wonder Labour Party support is flatlining and Union membership on the wane.

"On the question of Irish peoples unwillingness to do some jobs, I can only say that I have been taking the early bus to work on cold mornings this winter and there's no shortage of men of all ages turning to each morning for building work, and they even smile and make cheerful talk as they go."

You don't appear to be one of that merry band. Were you "displaced" by someone from Bratislava, or is it just you don't fancy working with a shovel? And how did you know what proportion of that group were Irish? Meat factory closures were due to rationalisation in the sector. Expect more of that.

"There are about 160,000 people on the Live Register, and our priority should be about rehabilitating the excluded into mainstream employment, not perpetuating a hire and fire mentality through the non-commital use of foreign casuals."

If you think that "a hire and fire" attitude prevails or can be indulged in the construction sector, then you really don't earn a living with shovels and cement.

Frank said...

Timmy,

Timmy,

You're not the guy from Noonan's, are you?

As you know, and seem to concede, Irish people are not averse to boning and processing animal carcasses. Rationalisation in the meat industry is putting Irish people out of jobs in parts of the country where that is the most available type of work for sections of the native population. If meat processing is, for a variety of reasons, rationalising into larger plants where there is insufficient local population to man them, where is the rationality in that?

The issue with construction is surely that civil engineering, commecial and residential construction are happening on a scale way beyond the capacity of the indigenous skilled workforce to service.

I'm in the market for any work that's going, though I'm not as physically hardy as some.

Timmy said...

Frank said;

"Timmy,

You're not the guy from Noonan's, are you?"

Come again?

"As you know, and seem to concede, Irish people are not averse to boning and processing animal carcasses."

That's never been in dispute. There isn't enough native labour to meet the needs of certain sectors.

"Rationalisation in the meat industry is putting Irish people out of jobs in parts of the country where that is the most available type of work for sections of the native population."

Evidence?

"If meat processing is, for a variety of reasons, rationalising into larger plants where there is insufficient local population to man them, where is the rationality in that?"

It lies in the "variety of reasons" you mentioned. Intel couldn't possibly meet it's recruitment needs from the Leixlip area alone. Ought we take it that the board of Intel was acting irrationaly in it's decision to locate there?

"The issue with construction is surely that civil engineering, commecial and residential construction are happening on a scale way beyond the capacity of the indigenous skilled workforce to service."

From my observations the skilled workforce such as tradesmen, engineers and surveyors are still overwhelmingly Irish. Most of the casual labour is foreign though.

phdbird said...

I don't think there was as much uproar as if McDowell had made those comments because when would Rabbitte be in a position to do anything about them? For the forseeable future anyway? If McDowell makes a bold statement it's in his power to act on it. It makes better press if a story's more likely to be followed up...

Frank said...

Timmy,

Sorry, I meant Abbott.

Oh! I've become so sleepy all of a sudden.

Simon said...

I don't think there was as much uproar as if McDowell had made those comments because when would Rabbitte be in a position to do anything about them? For the forseeable future anyway? If McDowell makes a bold statement it's in his power to act on it. It makes better press if a story's more likely to be followed up...

Pat Rabbitte could well be the next minister. The press should vigoursly vet everyone. I think the lack of coverage was due to it being Rabbitte the darling of the same people that hate McDowell and control much of the media.

There are some people in the world that if McDowell said that life doesn't exist on other planets people would call him a racist against any non earth creatures.

All I want is objective critism in this world what is good for the gander is good for the geese.

Timmy said...

Frank,

"Timmy,

Sorry, I meant Abbott.

Oh! I've become so sleepy all of a sudden."

I'm still at a loss as to what your point is?

Frank said...

Timmy,

Snap.