No, they don’t eat swan.

Having won this year’s Limerick Musical Chairs Olympiad, Gerry McLoughlin is the latest incumbent of the greatest honour the city can bestow. First citizen, the fair lady’s pimp daddy, Mayor of Limerick City, the big kebab. And, as with all local politicians, he seems intent on spitting out the ridiculous ideas in an effort to score some headlines and/or points. Throw your perving orbs around this little shitheap:

That’s right, its time to see the street signs in our ever-so-lovely Limerick translated into Polish. A wonderful idea! How multi-cultural! How all-inclusive! How hyphen-generatingly brilliant! Surely a committee or two would have to be formed, meetings would need to be held, feasibility studies would have to be commissioned (and, of course, ignored), and most importantly money spent on this but who cares? Sure we’ve time and cash to burn, right? And so many would benefit! No longer would our Polish population stand outside the Curragower, scratching their heads and desperately wondering how to find the treaty stone. No more must little Krysztof and little Wojtech try to get to Brown Thomas only to follow the wrong road sign and end up in Knock. The Polish will find their way to where they’re going. Set our people free.

Well, no. For starters, there’s the money thing. For anyone that’s missed it, we’re skint. Locally, nationally, globally skint. There’s no money for these hare-brained schemes, be they good or bad and I reckon this one falls into the latter category.

You see, there’s absolutely no problem with immigration. As I don my helmet and await the spitting bile of the usual “Irish jobs for Irish people” brigade, let me explain. You see, sometimes, when a country’s job market isn’t too healthy, the population moves elsewhere looking for work. These workers are called “migrant workers”. You may be familiar with them. They tend to work in every goddamned aspect of Irish life, and for the most part like any other group of people they just want to do their hours, get paid, and live their lives. BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! It turns out that when the country they’ve migrated to goes completely tits-up economically (read: Ireland, 2008-present) many of them head off back home. Why stay when there’s no more pay? Why be separated from your family in a foreign land when there’s no advantage to it? And sadly (yes, sadly) many of the people I and others have met over the past few years are boarding planes and heading home. Of course, so are half of our Irish mates of a certain age, but then again they’re not insisting that street signs in Canada or Australia be re-worded as Gaeilge, are they?

No, and it’s for a pretty simple reason. Listen carefully, it might hurt to read this.

Ireland isn’t Poland.

No, really, I checked it up on Wikipedia AND the world fact book. There’s absolutely no reason to think that it’s necessary or even appropriate to change our infrastructure in such a puerile fashion. Quite the opposite. If we’re looking to truly integrate our immigrant population, we should be actively encouraging them to learn English. Consider Sweden. Admittedly there’s a known bigotry problem over there, and I know that I frequently bang on about their socialist democratic paradise, but really the system is quite simple. To apply for residency you have to first take mandatory lessons in the Swedish language. Nobody’s saying you can’t speak your home tongue with friends and family within your ethnic group of origin, just that you have to learn the language of the country whose society you’re choosing to be a contributing member of. Not only this, but while attending these classes, your children (if you’ve brought some with you) are provided with free, state-run childcare and creches. Not bad, eh? And all it costs is a paltry 49-60% income tax. Probably not a runner here then. But really, isn’t making it less necessary to immerse yourself in your new language the exact opposite of integration?

For those of you who have been in Limerick for more than ten years, you may remember our first influx of immigrants a few years back. Back in those days, they were called “asylum-seekers”, and by all accounts didn’t have the red carpet rolled out for them by the majority. As most of them came – to  Limerick and other parts of Ireland – from Nigeria at the time, surely by the logic above we should have immediately printed road signs in French. I don’t remember that particular crusade being taken up. So why the Polish and not the Africans?

Wait. Wait a minute. Political mastermind and man of all people Gerry is already one step ahead of me..

“I would like to see some Polish and African signs going up,”

AFRICAN signs! In AFRICAN! Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I wonder if he means the queen’s African or the more dialectic Burren African? Fantastic. A question for out Uberlord Gerry, then. What about our Filipino population? Our Latvians? Our Lithuanians? Our Czechs? Our Pakistanis? Why the Polish, Gerry?

Tell you what, I know a language that most of Eastern Europe used to speak. How about we put all the road signs in Russian? Sure, most of them were forced to learn it in school (because the Russians didn’t really “move into” places as much as they “rolled over” them back in the curtain days), but that doesn’t mean it won’t help our long-term guests get in lane.

Better yet, how about German?

No, they don’t eat swan.

Wipe it off and drop it here

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