Thursday, April 05, 2007

Come in to the parlour (and keep your wallet handy)

I had the good fortune to be one of an elite group of plastic paddies invited to attend a top secret conference on Ireland's attitudes to the Diaspora held at Dublin Castle yesterday.

The aim of the conference was to 're-invigorate the debate' and assess the indigenous attitude to those rats who deserted the sinking ship, sorry, unfortunates who were driven off the four green fields and scattered to the corners of the earth by the great calamity that was pre-Celtic Tiger Irish history. A fate which, it appears, was not entirely the fault of the Brits after all, but don't be after spreading that around now.

Organised by a grand bunch of lads and lasses from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the event marked the 5 years which have passed from the publication of a highly classified document referred to as the Task Force Report on Emigration, but you didn't hear about that from me.

The meeting was opened by Bertie's kid brother Dermot or Desmond or whatever his name is. He gives good speech, by the way. There were moments during his intro when I felt almost obliged to slip on me Bhoys replica shirt, pop my DJ mix of A Nation Once Again, Skibbereen and the Fields of Athenry onto the Ipod and have an auld jive around the room. Sadly it all went down hill from there.

The speakers included the head honcho from the bogball and stick-fighting posse, a bimbo from some business school named after an airline (the school, not the bimbo), Ian Paisley's family doctor who I think had been dipping into the Big Yin's medication, and some old journo whose book about deh diasporee is, like The Sun newspaper, still banned in Liverpool due to its defamatory attitude to Scousers.

Some of the brogues were a bit thick for my English educated ear, but I think I can pretty much can summarise the attitudes of the indigenes who spoke as follows:

  1. A long time ago a lot of people had to flee Mother Ireland's shores due to poverty, starvation and a surfeit of other woes, none of which can entirely be blamed on the Saxon foe good people of England. This was a pity and a great big sad lump of a thing for all concerned.
  2. On the bright side some of you did very well, especially the ones who went to Amerikay and kept the nation going with all of the postal orders you sent back.
  3. Some of you didn't do very well and didn't get as far Amerikay or the post office. These wee blackgaurds and rascals went to England on the lump and spent their money on drink instead of roof tiles in Kiltimagh and we're sorry for that. Especially because these days you're always after getting on Prime Time moidering us for hand-outs for community centres, free holidays and the like.
  4. Now we're a rich and prosperous modern European nation that doesn't rely the postal orders any more, we're ready to let bygones be bygones. And anyway, times have changed. Thanks to new technology like the interweb there are lots of ways other than postal orders you can give us a dig out should the need arise. And you don't even have to queue at the counter to do it.
  5. You can, for example, keep buying the U2 records, even though we all know that Sir Bono is a wee sleeveen, wearing the Aran knitwear and getting the lumps of gift-packaged bogland off the eee-Bay. For the right price and in the flick of a goat's tail at Puck Fair, we can have you all jabbering away as Gaeilge, playing handball, road-bowling and the bodhran (well maybe not the last).
  6. You can keep coming here summer after summer and letting us patronise the shite out of you and your wacky St Patrick's Day parades and Quiet Man shenanigans. And it doesn't matter a jot that you're not really Irish, because your Sterling, Euros and Dollars are as good as anyone else's.

A footnote in the interest of balance (and how often do you find that in satire?). The fine people at the Department of Foreign Affairs should be commended for their efforts in trying to undo the colossal bad faith of the indigenous Irish towards the diaspora for the past 85 years. Where Angels Fear says a wholehearted fair fecks to yeh lads! Especially the cute 3rd Secretary Labour.

PS Did you know that the State Apartments in Dublin Castle doesn't have toilets? It has restrooms. What does that tell you? Answers on a postcard only please.

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