The Irish in Britain
Sir, – I refer to the article by James Patterson which details racial abuse he received in Liverpool (“Anti-Irish bigotry in Britain has not gone away”, Opinion & Analysis, February 22nd). I am both shocked and surprised to hear this. I am so sorry he has had this experience in our great city. I am originally from Dublin but have been living in Liverpool for 25 years. I can honestly say that this is one of the most decent, progressive, outward-looking, welcoming cities in the country. It is not only a safe haven for Irish but for all people. This a port city that is both proud of and built on diversity, and it is also passionately anti-racist. Scousers understand discrimination and stereotyping all too well, as they themselves are not immune to it. This city champions the underdog and protects the vulnerable. After 25 years I consider myself Irish by birth and Scouse by choice.
I am sorry for the author’s experience but I hope this article does not deter people from coming and enjoying our city. I have no qualms about recommending a visit. Hopefully people can see Liverpool as I do. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – James Patterson exposes anti-Irish bigotry in Britain and includes, as an example, how the British press portrays Sinn Féin’s success in the recent election.
However, in doing so, he glosses over the fact that current negative attitudes and stereotyping of the Irish in Britain sustain a prejudice based on past IRA activities when it bombed towns and cities the length and breadth of England. As recently as 1996, for instance, the heart was blown out of Manchester and the London Docklands, with loss of life, injury and property devastation.
Living in West Belfast throughout the Troubles, I am also conscious of the harm the IRA has done to relationships and quality of life in Northern Ireland.
May I suggest therefore that to address the problem of anti-Irish sentiment it is necessary to analyse honestly where it is coming from. In some cases it is irrational and based on ignorance, but that does not mean that many others stigmatise all Irish people because of the actions of a minority – the IRA.
Writing as though current Irish bigotry, however wrong, is coming out of nowhere is not productive. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – As an Irishwoman who has worked in public service in the UK since 1995, I am treated only in the most positive way, a preferential approach if anything, due to my being Irish.
The British view the Irish as particular friends and recognise the many family and cultural ties we have in common. Many have both Irish and British parents or grandparents.
It is sad to hear that Mr Patterson met two idiots in Liverpool (where I myself have also lived). His unfortunate experiences on these two occasions must not be allowed to skew your readers into believing a false narrative of what life is like for the million or so Irish like myself, who are welcomed in the UK and treated with huge respect in what is our home. – Yours, etc,
Dr DEIRDRE BUCKLEY,