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#Waterford, #NigelFarage, #Cuts, #JobLosses, #Crime, #Roma, #Racism, #Numbers

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland | journal.ie

#NigelFarage

A few days ago, Ukip leader Nigel Farage was debating the 'immigration issue' as part of a panel on UTV in front of a live audience in the studio. At one point, when he was challenged by other guests on the panel on how the country benefited from immigration and migrants, he replied "the rich liberals in central London benefited from immigration by having cheaper chauffeurs and house maids, the corporations benefited from low-wage workers". He continued on to talk about the poorer areas of Britain that suffer so much from immigration. Unfortunately the presenter and the other panellists didn't ask him further questions such as where he and his party were during the anti-austerity marches, or various strikes of public/private sector workers against worsening working conditions and reduced wages. Where was Mr. Farage when protests were held against healthcare (NHS) cuts that will disable many low income people from receiving proper medical care? (A little known fact about Ukip is that it believes passionately in privatising the NHS).

 

Don't be confused, Nigel Farage hasn't discovered, and isn't experimenting with progressive, socially inclusive ideas. The far-right populism and opportunism of Farage, publicly playing with issues that are important to working class people, and in the process spreading the seeds of racism isn't an invention of his 'clever' intelligence. Not at all. This is how the far-right will speak in trying to appeal to the hurting, suffering working classes, to unemployed and poor people who are constantly let down by governments. And then they will find easy targets, such as the minority groups, the migrant workers, the asylum seekers or the Roma people to blame for all the problems their 'own citizens' are suffering from. They will never blame the real powers that cause the suffering of masses of people.

 

This propaganda is not new...

 

#Waterford, #Cuts, #JobLosses

The historic and beautiful city of Waterford is Ireland's fifth populous city with just over 46,000 residents in the city and 67,000 elsewhere in the county [CSO, 2011 Census]. Over the October Bank Holiday weekend Waterford City was on the news for all the bad reasons. The homes of three Roma families were attacked by a racist gang. The Roma families, with their elderly members and young children, had to flee their homes because of these attacks. This wasn't the first time such racism against the Roma people was expressed in Waterford City and it seems it won't be the last time either. But this time the nature of the attacks were different. The group was organised and committed to vandalising the homes of the Roma families.

 

But, Waterford wasn't always on the news for racism. Let's go back in time and remember what else we read about the city:

In 2007, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis shut Waterford plant with the loss of 200 jobs...

Once employing more than 3000 people, Waterford Crystal closed in 2009 with the loss of remaining 600 skilled jobs...

In 2011, Waterford saw the loss of 575 jobs in technology firm Talk Talk in Waterford...

2012 was the year of Waterford Hospital budget cuts and there were a number of protests against the downgrading of the hospital...

The same year, the national unemployment rate had risen to 14.8% while the South-East unemployment had reached a horrifying figure of 18.9%. In Waterford the number of unemployed people was 15,000...

In 2014 the city woke up to the news of 200 imminent redundancies at Bausch & Lomb along with reduced wages and the risk of further 1200 job losses. In 2011, there were 48 job losses at the same company...

Engineering firm Honeywell cut 74 jobs in 2013...

During same year, Citibank closed its Waterford operation with the loss of 50 jobs...

In 2014, three Bars closed With 50 job losses In Waterford City...

36 jobs went at Microbrush Limited in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford in 2014...

British drug group GlaxoSmithKline cut 130 jobs in Dungarvan, with genetics giant Teva making 315 employees redundant...

According to independent TD John Halligan, since the beginning of recession, almost 2,500 local jobs have been cut at IDA Ireland-backed companies...

There were number of rallies, solidarity protests, sit-ins and other community and workers' initiatives against austerity measures and job losses in Waterford. One has to wonder, where were the so called 'concerned' members of Waterford anti-Roma group during these events? If they were so concerned about their community and their city, how come we didn't see them during any of these rallies and protests?

Did they raise their voices agains education cuts or the cuts in local government budgets?

What do they think about the the billions the governments took from the people of this country - Irish and non-Irish - and gave to it the rich and the bond holders?

Nigel Farage's opportunism comes to mind...

 

#Roma, #Racism

Roma refers to the international Roma community, which is made up of diverse groups throughout the world. As a minority ethnic group, the Roma do not have an exclusive nation or homeland but share a common ancestry of origin, history and culture. Originating from northwest India, the Roma Diaspora began in the eleventh century. Today there is an estimated global population of 10-12 million Roma living in Europe, Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas (North, Central and South), Australia and New Zealand. Estimates suggest that 8-10 million Roma live in Europe. The Roma population in Ireland is estimated to be 2,500-3,000” (1)

 

The Roma people who came to Europe about a thousand years ago have endured centuries of persecution and oppression culminating in the Nazi Holocaust which murdered as high a proportion of the Roma population as it did of the Jewish people. Roma continue to face dreadful discrimination and violent attacks in much of Europe.

 

The oppression of Roma has taken many forms including a long period of enslavement in Romania (ending in the 1840s) but it reached its height with the Nazis in the Second World War. Just as the Nazis attempted to exterminate all the Jews of Europe so they tried to annihilate all the Roma. In the event they murdered approximately half of European Jewry, about 6 million, and a roughly similar proportion of Roma, about 500,000. This is important to remember because it means that almost every Roma in Ireland or Europe today will have lost members of their family in this catastrophe. After the Second World War the Roma in Communist Eastern Europe were not well treated or integrated but outright persecution of them was kept in check. This has not been the case since the collapse of Communism and Eastern Europe has seen the rise ofright wing racist and fascist forces, such as the NaziJobbik Party in Hungary, who regard Roma as their main target. Violent racist attacks on Roma are widespread in much of Europe. Consequently it must also be born in mind that Roma in Ireland are likely to have fled from such vicious persecution. (2)

 

Some of the anti-Roma sentiment in Ireland comes from their association with begging. People - Roma or Irish - beg out of poverty and desperation, not choice. Sitting on a bridge on the Liffey in the cold is not an easy or nice way to spend the day. Denouncing beggars means denouncing the most unfortunate and downtrodden members of society, while regarding all Roma as beggars is crude stereotyping.

 

Back to #Waterford and #Crime, #Numbers

Regardless of all the arguments put forward it seems the anti-Roma gang in Waterford will not be convinced and they don't want to see the real issues, problems and the causes of these.

 

The imminent danger in Ireland (and in Waterford) is not that we will be robbed by a Roma person, but, as we speak, we are being robbed by the rich-elite in this country, and we will be robbed even more for every glass of water our children drink. When you look at it this way, you can see how ridiculous racism is and how much it fits the agenda of protecting the real robbers in this country.

 

Some of the people attacking the Roma families must be remembering the much debated documentary from a while ago: "Ireland's Bogus Beggars". But they must have forgotten the final conclussion of it:

 

“Ireland’s Bogus Beggars (TV3) is as bogus a title to a programme as Irish television has ever come up with. A months-long investigation into organised begging in Ireland, it focused on the Roma community, which it seemed determined to prove was at the centre of a massive scam involving international crime rings making a fortune off the back of innocent Irish do-gooders. In the end, reporter Paul Connolly had to hold his hands up and agree that there was nothing there – no gang, no Mr Big at the head of it and no huge money to be made from begging in Ireland. Instead he found a world of “extreme poverty, desperation and a community struggling to survive”. (3)

 

The claims of anti-Roma racists continue to focus on 'organised Roma-crime gangs', 'begging' and 'theft' etc. If you listen to them, you would almost think that all of the 2,500 Roma people in Ireland must have moved to Waterford and they are all involved in high levels of 'crime'. Surely, if this is the case then we should see how the state reported crime rates - including many types of crimes - must have been rocketed in Wateford in the last few years.

 

Well, not quite so...

Where the words fail we can always refer to the well documented numbers as presented by CSO Annual Garda Crime Statistics 2004 to 2014 database. I hope the following graphs prepared using the baseline data from CSO will show the reality of the situation and the lie of massively increased crime in Waterford due to Roma people. To defend the Rome people, or any victims of racims, we shoudn't have to consult to official numbers and stats, or indeed refer to 'criminality' figures etc, but in this case, given the specific criminality claims against the Roma people and the claims of how the crime rates in Waterford have gone up dramatically it became essential to present the official figures.

I love numbers...

 

The following table lists the actual number of crimes committed in each year from 2003 to 2014

(2014Q1-2 are actual numbers. 2014P is calculated by simply doubling the Q1 and Q2 figures)

 

Based on all crime categories, the total number of crimes between 2003 and 2014

 

Selected categories of crimes

 

 

(1) Roma Educational Needs in Ireland Context and Challenges Louise Lesovitch, City of Dublin VEC in association with Pavee Point Travellers Centre and the Roma Support Group

(2) BLAME THE BOSSES NOT THE FOREIGNERS, Why Ireland Should Welcome Immigrants, John Molyneux

(3) http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/tv-radio/last-nights-tv-bogus-be...

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