Drinking, fighting, tricking soup kitchens - some Irish run wild in Western Australia
Last May GAA clubs in Perth were contacted by the police and warned about alleged antisocial behaviour among some young Irish.
The behaviour involved drinking and violence, but also rental properties getting so damaged during parties that agencies were reluctant to rent to Irish people.
Joan Ross, president of the Claddagh Association, an Irish welfare group in Perth, says that warning has largely worked.
“There’s a few Irish policemen here and they said to the GAA, ‘tell the lads to keep it down. Don’t rock the boat. We have a good name in Australia. We don’t want our reputation tarnished by a few louts’,” she says.
“They’re getting very savvy now. They’re getting units [flats] and they’re keeping their noses clean to keep that accommodation.”
Ross, who is originally from Co Armagh, says some Irish are ill-prepared for the challenges of emigration.
“They are arriving on one-way tickets with a few hundred dollars in their pocket. They think they are just going to walk straight into a job,” she says.
“There are young people who come out and they know what they need to do and they’re very streetwise. Then there are other ones whose mummies have been looking after them all their lives and they don’t know what to do. They’re the ones that seem to be falling through the cracks.”
Ross says some Irish are getting food from a Northbridge soup kitchen which feeds homeless people.
“Since Christmas we’ve had five young men in trouble. One of those lads told us that there were a lot of young Irish looking for food in Northbridge. We took a walk down there one night just to observe what was happening.
“There were about 100 people, about 20 of them were, we suspected, backpackers,” Ross adds. “We spoke to the volunteers and they said a lot of backpackers come, but they were told they had to feed the people who were regulars before the young people.
“But this lady said ‘if there’s food they get it. We won’t let anyone starve.’ We offered to make a donation, but she said they are well funded.”
Nicki McKenzie of the Manna Inc charity confirms the story of Irish backpackers lining up for food. “We don’t say no to anyone. We don’t know who is destitute. We don’t know what their circumstances are. We hope that people aren’t jumping in line for free food.”