Monday, 27 August 2012

The Irish Abroad- "craics" showing in our good reputation


Traditionally known for our intrinsic love of ‘the craic’, it seems the Irish have recently been gaining notoriety abroad for very different reasons and lacking the one thousand welcomes we so often extend.

An Irish man was arrested and charged last Tuesday in Darwin, Australia, for the drunken assault of a local Politician.

John Elferink had been speaking to camera at the time about the need for tougher laws on alcohol-fuelled violence, which is currently on the rise in their city, when an Irish youth appeared to kick him in the leg.

A video of the altercation has been viewed by thousands online after an uncomfortable tackle to the ground, ended with the politician’s plea to change the laws in Australia’s Northern territory: “so these sorts of morons don’t get an opportunity to do those sorts of things.”

Followed closely behind this incident was the Sydney Morning Herald and Brisbane Times account of the Irish support at Katie Taylor’s matches.

An Aussie journalist used descriptions such as “For centuries, Guinness and whiskey have sent the Irish off their heads. Now all it takes is a petite 26-year-old from Wicklow.”

The crassly-written piece which continued to include both the words “potatoes” and “fighting Irish” was met by an extreme reaction.

Noel White, the Irish Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, wrote a stern letter of complaint to Fairfax Media.

The Irish Times reported that Mr. White referred to the article as “disappointing” and continued that “references to intoxication and to named drinks are inappropriate and beneath the standard that one expects of Fairfax Media”

However, it is not only down under that the Irish have gathered a bad reputation, here in London The Irish World reported last month that an Irish Landlord was no longer renting rooms in his Cricklewood property to Irish tenants.

The landlord said drunken behaviour by Irish tenants had got so bad it caused widespread problems for other residents.

“I threw out two lads last week but when I came to check the rooms they had stolen all the bed clothes.”

In the same month an “anti-IRA” march took place in Liverpool led by an English Defence League.

The march targeted a local Irish group called the James Larkin society who denied any involvement in IRA activity.

However the more positive stories do not seem to resonate so strongly in our memories.

In a sharp contrast, Ireland received a visit from Poznan’s mayor last month opening an exhibition featuring photos from Euro 2012.

During an open meeting with soccer fans in a bar on Merrion Row, the mayor said:

I am proud that all European fans, especially the ones from Ireland, felt so good and safe in Poznan, and I would like to say big thank you to all of them by bringing those beautiful images of themselves supporting their national colours in Poznan.”

We think it’s safe to say that Poznan’s mayor did not receive any kicks to the shins.

Similarly it was the Irish supporters at this year’s London Games that seemed to make the most notable impression with a report from the Guardian saying: “The roars from the arena were deafening when the score went up: 7-5 to Ireland – that's all of Ireland, not just their representative in the ring. No Irish athlete walks alone.”

Irish boxing fans helped set a new Olympic record for noise levels at Katie Taylor’s quarter-final.

BBC presenter, Hazel Irvine also said: "Welcome to all our friends from Ireland,” while presenting at the games.

These positive examples did not hold the nations attention quite so intently.

An accomplished traveller, Brendan Behan once said
“It's not that the Irish are cynical. It's rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.”

However, that particular opinion was most likely aimed at seeking a reaction than any sort of relevance as Behan’s admiration for his Irish natives is hugely evident in his work.

Like any nation, we have our fair share of good and bad. Unfortunately the bad tend to hold passports as well and often are more preoccupied with drunkenly climbing palm trees in Oz then staying under the radar.

The many, and there’s a lot of them, well behaved Irish abroad continue to inspire, impress and delight in all aspects of commerce and culture.

As some very wise Irish Mammy once said (presumably): “It is just as important to focus on the good as it is the bad.”


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