Saturday, March 25, 2006

‘Anti-social’ Poles and ‘racist’ Northern Irish

A 51 year old Polish bricklayer gets beaten in Belfast and a crowd of thugs go nuts. Poles think they are being targeted because they are Catholics. But it’s not religion that’s the problem.(photo: UVF - Loyalist paramilitary organization grafitti)

My mother’s family is from Country Antrim, Northern Ireland, and I live and work in Poland. So I have been following this story carefully.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that on 20 March…

‘…Shortly after 10pm a gang of up to seven men armed with baseball bats smashed through the doors of a house in Donegall Street.

They broke windows before attacking the 51-year-old householder [his name is Jurek] with a hammer. He suffered arm injuries and was later treated in hospital before being released…

Detectives believe the same gang, who all wore scarves to cover their faces, then attacked houses in Fortuna Street and Coolfin Street, breaking a number of windows. All the incidents are being treated as racist.’

At the same time a group of about 30 people from the Loyalist (Protestant) Donegall Road, Village area of Belfast were demonstrating about ‘antisocial’ behaviour of Poles who had moved into the area since Poland joined the EU in 2004.

Antisocial behaviour are buzz words in what passes off for British politics at the moment. It means noisy neighbours ,etc. Apparently, Poles in the area have been having some noisy parties and there have been reports of ‘urinating in the street’.

But the BBC reported that:

‘MP for south Belfast, the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell, accused those taking part in the protest of behaving "like Nazis".

"I have a lot of sympathy with the economic plight and difficulties on Donegall Road, and I have done much since I was elected MP to ensure government channeled resources into that area," he said.

"But how long can you go on turning the cheek in that situation when the people are behaving like Nazis?"‘

The attacks on Poles in Belfast this week are not isolated incidents. Last year, between April and August, 11 separate reports of verbal and physical abuse wee recorded against Poles by the police. One Pole told Radio Polonia:

‘Was I ever the target a racist attack? Yes, I was. I was coming back from work with my friends through the local park when a group of 5 Irishmen approached us. They were suddenly joined by 10 more people and started beating us up with wooden planks and anything else they could find. I was taken in an ambulance into a nearby hospital where I waited 4 hours for inspection. I often hear of similar attacks happening near Belfast. Is it about religion? Yes, it’s not about whether you are Polish or Lithuanian but whether you are Catholic.‘

There have also been similar incidents in Country Antrim, to the north of Belfast.

I try and tell Poles that not all Irish Protestants are anti-Catholic thugs. Not all of Billy’s Boys are bully boys. But that’s the type of coverage it has been given here. They are convinced that Poles are being attacked by anti-Papists.

But I don’t think so.

The Donegall area of south Belfast is rough. Unemployment, bad housing, the middle class and the better off moving out. The usual deprived area scenario.

That makes rent in the area cheap and Poles and other immigrants have gravitated towards it. When they get there, however, the reception is not always friendly. And not just for Poles. In December 2004, the BBC again:

'Two houses in the Donegall Road and Coolsin Street areas were badly damaged after being set on fire. The houses were occupied by Romanian and Pakistani families, but both were away on holiday. Also last month, two Chinese families and a Ugandan family were forced to leave their homes in the village area after being targeted on the same night.'

The area has been degenerating for some time. Money is being thrown at the place, community centers are being built, nice murals painted by children are replacing the old, Loyalist graffiti.

But crime levels in the area, by Belfast standards – low crime during the ‘Troubles’, but rising since the Good Friday Agreement, interestingly - are high.

And rightwing gangs feed off that sort of situation. The communities used to be able to police themselves – but no longer.

So Poles are not getting attacked in places like Donegall Road because they are Catholics – but because they just strolled into the wrong part of town.

Gangmasters exploiting Polish in Wales, March 25


sonia said...

What I find strange is why there are Polish immigrant workers in Northern Ireland. They have very high unemployment (much higher than in Ireland or UK). Wouldn't Canada or Chicago be a better destination ?

Michael M. said...

sonia: I think it has to do with the fact that the UK and Ireland both opened up their labor markets to new EU member states right from the get-go. Going to Chicago would require tons of paperwork, terrorism background checks, retina scans, and God knows what else. Just my guess.

beatroot said...

It's true. If Chicago was in the EU then Poles would be going there. As it is, Poles even have to get a visa just to go and visit Chicago...let along live and work there.

michael farris said...

And not to put too fine a point on it, but Polish newcomers are probably cheaper than the locals.

Germany's apparently learning the wrong lesson from the British experience and is keeping Poles out for a few more years. And they wonder why they're not popular...

beatroot said...

Gummish, I am really sorry.

Maghera is in Derry, which is the second largest city in NI and it could well be a Catholic area.

Most of the attacks against Poles have been made in Loyalist areas, however, but you are right. It doesn't really matter. These people are just thugs.

Anonymous said...

it's not religion, it's because you're a foreigner. both sides are as bad as each other. as for chicago, tickets are expensive, you can get over for three months (tell them it's for a holiday) with no paperwork, but it'll be years before you get back. modern ireland pays well enough and is closer to home. up the saffrons.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Co Derry and its just thugs having a go against "foreigners". I tok beatings because I didn't like the Queen (!).

Anonymous said...

I am ashamed of "my" people. There is so much xenophobia in this country...we fear anything different and perceive it as a threat...this is most likely due to insecurities regarding national identity and religion. The "irish" have perceived themselves as always being threatened by outsiders, whether english or whatever. The religious slant just gives more fuel to the fire of fear. I get attacked simply for wearing flares and having long hair in my own city. There is fear, and it embodies itself in over defensiveness and aggression. I am sorry. I am trying to do things to help the situation. I welcome all lovers of peace to this country.

Anonymous said...

There's so much antagonism between Poles and Brits nowadays (check:

I can understand Poles vs Germans, but Poles vs Brits? Doesn't make much sense...

Anonymous said...

Racist, xenofobic, nationalistic bunch from a wet dumpy island populated by clearly the least attractive (to put it nicely) women on the continent and potatoe-headed men with an average IQ of 97 which is barely enough to perform simple gardening works

Given the depressing nature of the island that is so astehetically challenged, it is no wonder that most of the Irish people emigrated out and now do get drunk some place nicer.

The ones that left -- and enjoyed being semi-civilized by the English clearly did not learn much, perhaps just a lispy slang of the English language which they chose to speak over their own -- now enjoy unleashing their frustration with their parents who had no guts to have moved to a nicer place onto elderly imigrants to their own country.

How sweet. But worry not. No one sane will stay on this island any longer than absolutely economically necesary.

Go Ireland!

Anonymous said...

In reference to that polish forums site ---- all the English posting there can't actually spell. I think that's a prime example of the kind of people who engage in racist and anti-social behavior.

"I have the same feelings for all the lithuanian immagrants who ruien this fine country."

I left Ireland after Uni to work in Germany and live with my Polish girlfriend (we met in Ireland)

Go Ireland

Anonymous said...

poles are dumb.thats why their country is in the state its in.they have to come to a superior country like ours and their women are sluts.they either stay away from polish men (and who could blame them?they all look alike with bald heads and eyes to close together,they look inbred) or work in a brothel or stripclub(willingly)and by the way
my IQ is above 124,maybe thats why i know how to spell 'necessary' and if you had read your own link you would have seen it says anything above 85 is normal.which i doubt you are.whats the matter with you why so angry towards us?i bet every irish girl turned your ugly ass down ha ha ha ha

Anonymous said...

I seriously hope that the IRA wack you loyalist bastards! just because people come from a foreign country it's not fucking okay to beat them up! you loyalist inbred bastards should just fuck off home to your precious queen and stay the fuck off of Ireland!

Anonymous said...

I am a Pole myself. This is the comment to the last but one anonymous:are we all sluts?And are all men with bald heads?Where have you taken this from?Maybe you are one of those people who promises a great work and fabulous salary,which is actually a lie,and then they force terrified Polish girls to prostitution.
Young Polish people want to find 'a better life' abroad,I also let my boyfriend to go to Ireland because he would never earned so much money in Poland as he do in Ireland.
Polish girls aren't sluts,they are (or unless most of them are)really friendly, nice and beautiful women.Didn't you ever heard that the Polish girls are the best?

Anonymous said...

This pertains to the comment written by "Anonymous at 4:46 pm..."

I think you have things backwards.. Speaking from experience (I'm Polish), Polish women are less likely to sleep around than women from many other industrialized countries (they get married earlier) and Polish men are not particularly more likely to be bold then men from other countries. (Actually I think polish men are gems) Polish people are not dumb; a recent study claims Poles have an average IQ of 106, third highest in Europe.

An IQ of 124 is nothing to brag about. It's not that high.. I'd say it's about average for someone educated (Flinch effect). It just means you are not a delinquent.
(One can learn to score high on IQ tests anyway - is harder over 140)
P.S. I have scored 141 and 150..
I'm not sure it means much though..

One thing I know, prejudice is useless and destructive (IF anything a sign of lower intelligence)

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Anonymous said...

Lets bitch about something else now. Why are Polish people so homophobic? Don't you realise that it's unacceptable in a normal modern western country?

Anonymous said...

I live in scotland and we don't want to be over run by eastern europeans or pakistanis, just look at the problems these people are causing in england. moslem only areas, romanian mafia, russian mafia, al quaida types etc etc. poles are drinking in the street and housebreaking in small scottish towns, go home poles.

Unknown said...

To an intelligent anonymous (4:46): Dear bright anonymous. You have given a proof of your outstanding intelligence. Tell me brainmaster, what do you know about the Polish history? Do you have any idea what this nation has been through in the last 50 years? Certainly Poland is a poor country because the Polish are stupid. It deffinitely has nothing to do with recent soviet domination in that area nor with the major American financial help known as the Marshall's plan, received by Germany, UK and most of the "western" countries after the war. The Polish were even stupid enough to get rid of a soviet domination without a single man being killed in that process. You might have heard this started peaceful democratic movements in all the countries of the eastern block and caused fall of the Soviet Union as a consequence. If you haven't figured it out yourself yet, I'm rushing to inform you that not all the Poles are bald and primitive. Some of us are even as intelligent as you. I feel sorry that a lot of Poles coming to NI behave as complete morons but, you have to trust us, we don't like that either. To sum up -a man of your intelligence should be more tolerant and understand that every nation has both stupid and smart peaceful people. Moreover, even though most of the nation declare themselves as catholics we're not that radical as you may think and we deffinitely want to stay away from your conflicts and troubles in general. So next time you see a Polish guy, don't rush to kick his ass, maybe he's a normal guy who simply wants to earn money for his wife and kids. If he's bald, stupid and looking for troubles I have nothing against kicking his ass. Forgive me my poor grammar and spelling, I'm Polish as you might have noticed.

Anonymous said...

What is it with all you anti-Polish idiots.. don;t you remember that the Irish have travelled and worked in almost every country in the world and were welcomed, even though a lot of them were sub intelligent and drunks. In answer to the question, why are the Polish people here. They are here because they are needed, if it was not for the Polish people and other immigrants, 100's of companies in Northern Ireland would have went to the wall. The Polish people should be admired, coming to work here amongst the bigotry and hatred that some people in Northern Ireland have for them, however they deserve better, they deserve your admiration and respect. In regards to the Polish women, I can tell you, (To the guy who said that Polish girls were sluts) POLISH women are beautiful, they look after themselves, they are thoughtful, make excellent wives and mothers. I know, I married a Polish girl and there is not one girl in the UK could match her. The majority of Women here are, money grabbing, spoilt, and run around the place half dressed with all their bits hanging out. What normal european woman would go out for a night in the snow and ice wearing nothing but a Belt for a skirt and a skimpy top? They don't look after themselves and eventually blow up into lard asses, wear stretch leggings as they can no longer fit into their designer clothing, they look like they are 80 when they reach the age of 30, they get depressed are lazy and yap continuously for no reason. What man in his right mind wants that???

To the Brain dead Clampits who are attacking Polish people(Normally so-called loyalists)remember this. During WWII, Poland had the fourth largest army combating the Germans, the most highly decorated navy, the largest, and most effective, resistance organization, and made numerous other great contributions.

It was Poland that was responsible for the cracking of the German code, and the smuggling of an Enigma machine to Britain. This enabled the Allies to decode and read German messages, one of the greatest intelligence coups of all time, and one of the most important contributions of the war. Were it not for Poland, the war, at best, would have lasted longer, and at worst, would have ended in a German victory and you would have been called Franz.
Remember this the next time you see a Polish person on the street.


Anonymous said...

he racist idiots we all are humans if you do not know that I propose to reopen concentrate camps.My grandfather a.k.a Capitan of AK was organising during second world war escapes from Auschwitz they never consider who they are saving Jude Polish English Romanian German Russian Irish black white yellow blue we are all humans so we have all same rights every where if you think different maybe world is not place to you.Fuck all forms of intolerance.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across this blog and i live in Northern Ireland, Derry City, not Co.Derry =). Someone mentioned above something about Derry being Catholic, it is but there are more Protestant areas in Co.Derry, the main Derry city is Catholic.
Im female 20 Irish and i have a Ukrainian bf who has gotten alot of verbal abuse whilst being here but no one brave enough to say anything to his face, shows you the type of cowards who do these things.
The Polish man who was quoted in the blog said he believed he was the victim of a racist attack but then went on to say he was targetted because he was Catholic and the same as the poster i do not believe this is the case. Maybe in the 60's and 70's people were targetting solely on religion but we have moved on considerably since then, religion no longer has the same impact on society as it once had. Now attacks occur because of the area you live in, what football team you support, what colours you are wearing, what school you go/went to, what your family name is etc etc. Basically the divide is republican/loyalist, not so much catholic/protestant. He was targeted because he was an outsider, as to the reasons why the attackers saw that as a valid reason to attach someone, i dont know. There are good and bad on all sides, i have Polish and Lithuanian friends who have often been the subject of 'go back home' chants in the street or bar, i also have an Irish friend who i grew up with who was mugged outside his bank by a group of 5 Romanians. There is no clear answer of why these attacks occur or what can make them stop, my own point of view is that they cannot be stopped, intolerence and violence is part of human nature and prevalent all throughout history and will go on until the end of time. It is good in theory to say everyone is equal and any reasonable person would see this is true but there is also going to be the intolerence of a small minority and the bad always outweighs the good, in reality equality doesn't happen and i doubt it ever will.

Anonymous said...

Neither the Irish nor the Polish are genetically nor culturally deficient in any regard. There are beautiful and intelligent people in Ireland, Poland, and England. Socioeconomic factors have benefitted certain groups over others, but not because one group is inherently better than the other. The world is becoming more pluralistic and I look forward to a day when we recognize our common humanity in one another, and not meaningless "racial" and ethnic distinctions.

~ Kevin (Bay Area California)

Anonymous said...

No, sorry, I have to disagree. Northern Irish protestants, we must remember, are Settlers from the Ulster plantation of the 17th century and as such have been racist bigots against the indegenous irish for centuries. They are culturally socialised to do this, as Irish President Mary McAleese pointed out. It does not surprise me that they have delighted in finding new targets for their self-perceived superiority. I think their attacks on the Poles is sectarian and anti-catholic because that is the very cement of the ideology of Ulster Unionism. Having been embarrassed by negative exposure to the international media since the outbreak of the Troubles in 1969, loyalists and Unionists are trying to play a PR game to portray
themseles in a more positive light. This PR campaign is discreetly aided and abetted by certain covertly bigoted academics at Queen's University such as Professor Paul Bew, and as such is a thin veneer on the truth.

Anonymous said...

Actually I deeply apologise to the Poles on the Donegal Road and the Village for the behaviour of these loyalist thungs. Now you know what we Catholics have gone through for centuries with these Unionist British Settler neo-nazi's. They were put here in this island of Ireland by the British to walk all over catholics during the Reformation. Please read some history books and read about the Penal Laws. As such they have not changed despite the passing of time. Bring over a Polish or American documentary film crew and show these bastards up for what they are. Maybe then you might understand why there has been a virtual civil war in the North for so long. In fact the Unionists are the real foreigners on this island.

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Anonymous said...

Blimey.., i shan't visit Ireland after reading this little lot! And, that, from a scouser!!

DS said...

It seems that anti British racism is alive and well, tolerated and even encouraged.

Anonymous said...

Polish people are lazy and not trust worthy. Racist nation. Try to visit Poland and look how people look at you. They should be isolated!!!!

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Anonymous said...

The problem unfortunately here is that many people would just have heard the word Auschwitz without having a clear idea of what it was about. History ignorance is part of the education system