Polish woman critical of 'untrue' article

Fri, Feb 3, 2012, 00:00

A POLISH woman who was the subject of a mistranslated article suggesting she was a “welfare tourist” has said she was shocked to learn of it and that the allegation was “completely not true”.

The woman known as Magda – which is not her real name – was interviewed on radio yesterday about the article which had been described as inflammatory by Polish ambassador to Ireland Marcin Nawrot.

Mr Nawrot said the original article had been inaccurately translated in a report published in the Irish Independenton Wednesday, and he cited potential damage to the reputation of Poles living in Ireland.

The article had been reportedly translated from one that originally appeared in Poland’s Gazeta Wyborczanewspaper. It told of Poles struggling to find work in Ireland and described Magda as saying working for the minimum wage made no sense and that life in Donegal was “a Hawaiian massage”. She had in fact said that she had done a Fás course in Hawaiian massage.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s John Murrayprogramme, Magda said things had been “added and changed” in the article and that people who knew her would know straight away that it was “not me”.

“At first I was completely shocked. You don’t know what to think.

“How is it possible for anybody to publish something that is just not true, completely not true and it’s not just misinterpretation, you know, or mistranslation – it’s just a completely different story?”

Magda was a trained nanny and had been living in Ireland for six years. She said she had worked in the hospitality industry for a couple of years but that jobs were scarce and she had been on the dole for about a year and a half.

She had done courses, including a Fás course to help her set up a small business, and she hoped to have her massage therapy practice up and running by Easter.

“I came for holidays, and I so fell in love with Ireland, with the place,” she said.

Labour Party Senator Jimmy Harte, who said on Wednesday he would pay for Magda’s flight back to Poland, apologised for remarks he made on Twitter early yesterday following the controversy over the article. He said his comments were “made in the heat of the moment and went well beyond an acceptable level of online interaction”.

Mr Harte engaged in heated exchanges with other users of the website, telling one person who referred to him as a “scumbag senator” that he should “go back up the mountain you came down my friend”. Socialist Party TDs said yesterday the original article was “tantamount to incitement to hatred”.