Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Understanding the challenges of immigration

Enda Kenny says that the people of Ireland "understand better than most the special challenges of immigration and integrating new communities". In fact, Enda, Irish people understand less than others the challenges of immigration and integrating new communities.

Until recently, Ireland had virtually no experience of 'foreigners' moving here. You have to go back to the Ulster Plantation to find an era where Ireland has experienced any serious influx of people. I doubt there's another country in Europe with less experience in this matter.

Kenny is doing as so many do here when discussing immigration and somehow trying to say that the experiences of those Irish who left for the US or Britain have somehow - never sure how this is supposed to have happened - been absorbed here. Well, as those Irish always seem so keen to point out, the 'Irish' in the US or Britain are not really the same as the Irish in Ireland.

Americans of Irish descent who have, over generations, gone from immigrants to 'natives' have the experiences and understanding that Kenny talks about, but very few people born and raised here do.

{I should add that I don't really think "understanding" or "experience" or what have you matters a damn with regards to how a country responds to immigration.}