Eilis O'Hanlon, writing in the Sunday Independent on March 19, 2006, referred to the undocumented Irish as "rats". Needless to say, this provoked a storm of protest. For those of you who did not see the article, we are including it here:
Emigrants' plight we'd gladly share
IMMIGRANTS. Dontcha just love 'em? They come over here and work for a pittance, doing all the jobs we're too grand for these days, ensuring in the process that the Celtic Tiger keeps ticking over and that Ireland's a much more interesting, diverse and cosmopolitan country than it's ever been before in its history - and all they get in return is an earful of abuse and the blame for everything from the recent riots in Dublin to our appalling road safety statistics. Meanwhile, we're all supposed to be getting sentimental about the "plight" of our own illegal emigrants in the US.
This "plight", presumably, is that they've been living it up in the world's most dynamic and successful economy for years while paying no tax or national insurance, either in the country they sneaked into or the one they buggered off from, and who now have Irish politicians bending over backwards to help them out. That's the kind of plight we could all do with sharing, lads. Don't pay your Dirt tax in Ballydehob and you're a national disgrace. Don't pay any tax in Boston and you're apparently a national hero.
Irish illegals in America deserted the sinking mother ship when times were hard, and now the vessel's afloat again the rats expect us to help them out. And though Bertie has said he wants no special deal for the Irish, there are mutterings from others to say that if the current McCain/Kennedy bill fails then we should try to do a deal for our own. And to hell with all the poor Mexicans, Cubans, Chinese, Indians, Africans etc who need much more of a helping hand than we do. Why should we be a special case? Because we helped build the railroads?
Yeah, and we also helped build the Ku Klux Klan. You never hear Irish politicians boasting about that at the White House on Paddy's Day. What's hilarious is that the Irish illegals are now under pressure because, post 9/11, Americans are more sensitive about security and terrorism.
I bet some of those expats don't feel so blase now about all those years they spent out there singing rebel songs and drumming up support for the IRA while the rest of us back here actually had to live with the consequences. Still, if they're caught, I suppose they can always claim they were only birdwatching, like the Colombia Three.