Polish ambassador criticises report on welfare recipients

 

POLAND’S GAZETA Wyborczanewspaper and the country’s ambassador to Ireland have criticised as “inaccurate” and “inflammatory” a report in the Irish media on Polish social welfare recipients in Ireland.

A report in the paper, Poland’s leading quality daily, told of Poles struggling to find work in Ireland. One interviewee, “Magda”, lived in a house near a beach in Donegal and claimed unemployment benefit.

In the article, she said that working for the minimum wage “makes no sense” and described her days as involving beach walks, surfing, barter with locals and a training course in Hawaiian massage.

Poland’s ambassador to Ireland, Marcin Nawrot, said the original article had been inaccurately translated in a report published in the Irish Independentyesterday, citing potential damage to the reputation of Poles living in Ireland.

“I can assure you that people like Magda constitute a very small minority of Poles in Ireland, and are in no way representative of the entire Irish-based Polish community,” he said in a letter. He pointed out that Magda did not describe Donegal in the article as a “shithole”, as had been reported.

Magda described her life on unemployment benefit as less stressful than before, but expressed unhappiness about not working for a living.

“I don’t want to live at the Government’s cost, which is why I treat this help as an opportunity to start my own business. For the last five years I was paying my taxes here, so I’ve earned my benefits.”

Gazeta Wyborczafeatures editor Mariusz Szczygiel said the article ran as part of a package presenting both the positive and negative sides of the Polish emigrant experience around Europe.

“Since Poles living in Ireland claim all those benefits legally, I see no problem with that,” he told The Irish Times.

The article provoked a storm of critical remarks on Gazeta Wyborcza’swebsite.

A Polish woman living in Ireland wrote: “I cannot read the article because I am so mad . . . We pay high taxes so people like that can have a nice living.”

* A translation of the Gazeta Wyborczaarticle can be found here iti.ms/zyYMQ1