What gets me about such prejudice in Ireland, and some of it is pretty scary, is that at least some of those who harbour it actually endured it themselves when they were abroad. I’m not guessing this.
There is another category who never had to live abroad, and who thought Irish emigrants, never mind immigrants, were good riddance. It isn’t too long ago that a politician claimed that the island was too small for all of us. These are more understandable in their narrow-mindedness, if one twists oneself in a knot in an effort to understand them.
It probably doesn’t mean anything to this group, but their relatives certainly endured anti-Irish racism, either relatively recently or as recently as their grandparents’ time (1940s, 1950s), when it was – just – beginning to wane in its intensity.
My parents, who lived in England for many years, always maintained that the English were the most broadminded people in the world, and I agree with them.
Yet there was undoubtedly a virulent strain of anti-Irish racism in England and the UK as a whole. Surely the phrase ‘No dogs, No Irish’ is seared into the Irish psyche?
If not, then this is a debilitated national memory bordering on Alzheimers.
What I can’t get my head around is, why would a people who have suffered so much from vicious prejudice inflict it on others? And yet that, too, isn’t unique. It’s a very sad and mysterious part of human nature, it seems.
Is it some kind of mechanism to blot out past humiliations?
Whatever it is, it’s ugly. Actually, it’s more than that. It’s criminal, and at its worst, and especially when it’s used to manipulate stupid people, it’s evil.