Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Black skin, brown envelope

A recent report from the the Migration and Citizenship Research Unit above there at UCD condemns the neglect of ethnic minority inclusion shown by the major parties on this island. As its authors note:
..... the integration efforts of Irish political parties are, as of yet, minimal. This is a crucial issue. Politicians are key actors in debates about immigration and integration. They are expected to provide leadership. Yet their own specific institutions, the political parties, remain amongst the least diverse, the least responsive, the least capable of leading by example when it comes to representing the diversity of twenty-first century Irish society. This is unsustainable and potentially dangerous to social cohesion in the long run.
Ever an organisation to grasp an opportunity (not to mention a brown envelope or two), I understand that the Fianna Fáil political machine has immediately swung into action and responded to the challenge of integration and equal opportunities.

Spooky Glockenspiel Music and dissolve to:

Party Headquarters,
Mount St Lower, Dublin 4
where a candidate selection interview is taking place

INTERVIEWER: Top of the morning to you O' Benjamin. Will you take a cup o' tay or a drop of that Nigerian lager I hear is popular amongst you people.

CANDIDATE: Good morning, it's Obenjwe-Amin, actually. Tea would be fine thank you.

INTVR: Sit you down, sit you down. That's a chair over there or you can just squat on the floor if that's more comfortable for you. Sure we'll not stand on ceremony here. So now tell us a bit about yourself. What part of Nigeria are you from?

CAND: I'm not from Nigeria, I'm from Crumlin.

INTVR: Would that be anywhere near Lagos, then? I hear that's a fierce wild place for the old brown envelopes, if you follow my drift.

CAND: No, it's in Dublin, near Drimnagh.

INTVR: Ah, Der-im-in-ah, is it? They're such exotic names you're after having beyond there in Africa. Sure can't I only see the lions and the monkeys up the palm trees and the dusky maidens with the long necks doing the fertility dances. So, how long is it since you left Nigeria, then?

CAND: I told you. I'm not Nigerian.

INTVR: Of course you're not, me darling girl (WINKS THEATRICALLY). Like the last fellah before you wasn't Rumanian, either. Told us he was a Bulgarian, so he did, but we all know they like to do that before they put the grip on yeh for a copy of deh Big Issues, hah?. (MIMES A NUDGE AND WINKS AGAIN)

CAND: I'm from Crumlin, it's in Dublin, that's in Ireland. Not Nigeria, not anywhere in Africa.

INTVR: So it is, so it is, ye fine thing, yeh. Anyway so, must press on. Time's a divil and waits for no man, hah?. So what would a fine Nigerian lassie like yourself think you could bring to the Fianna Fáil party?

CAND: Well I have a degree in law and a Master's in political science. I've worked with NGOs in my local community on adult literacy and welfare rights and I was auditor of my college Cumann of Fianna Fáil. I'd say I was pretty plugged in at a grass-roots level.

INTVR: Well an education that grand must have cost a fine penny or two. I expect the family pulled some strings to get you in, did they? Would there be diplomats or former dictators in the family then? Maybe an ex-Government minister?

CAND: No. I took the Leaving Cert like everyone else.

INTVR: Nothing to be ashamed of a bit of the old nepotism, eh? Sure there's many a man not an asses roar from here who wouldn't be where they are but for having a Daddy or an Uncle in the right place at the right time (WINKS AGAIN). Anyway so, back to the interview script, them maggots at the Equalities Authority give us a divil of a time if we don't treat everyone the same.

Would you be after playing any sport now? Sure a fine thing like yourself would be a wonder to behold in a camogie kit.

CAND: Well I played a bit of soccer and tennis at college and .....

INTVR: (Nods slowly and prints, even more slowly, 'NO GAA!' on the sheet in front of him). Perhaps you like watching the lads play rugby or the old golf then?

CAND: I don't really have much time to watch sport because of the advocacy work I do with Asylum Seekers in the evenings and weekends.

INTVR: Asylum seekers, is it? No votes in them lads worth speaking of, hah? Still they'll do a good job building a conservatory for the right price should the need arise. Or would that be the Poles? I'm always after mixing them up.

CAND: I think that would be Polish people. Asylum seekers aren't allowed to work.

INTVR: No, and a good job it is too. Sure wouldn't they be after taking the bread from the mouth of the honest Irish working man who fought the Tans to free this nation from the Saxon yoke. (His eyes glaze over and he begins to hum A Nation Once Again).

CAND: Could we get back to the interview, please?

INTVR: Ah yes, the interview. Well, as you know what with the forthcoming election and all, there's going to be a major drain on the auld finances. Them street posters aren't cheap, even with them asylum seekers on nixers to put them up for us. The ideal candidate for our party would be someone who has the kind of talents that could give us a dig-out when the time comes. Would you be that sort of candidate Miss O'Benjamin?

CAND: Well I've done several fund-raising campaigns for the local hospital, fun runs, sponsored walks, that kind of thing....

INTVR: Very good, very good. But I was after thinking of something that could pull in a more substantial contribution. Would you ever have done anything with the auld emails, perhaps? You know the kind of thing, hah? Your people are past masters at it, so I'm told. (PUTS ON A BAD NIGERIAN ACCENT) 'My name is Joseph I am orphan whose parents died in famine. I need money to make sure I get good Christian Catholic education. Please sponsor me Only $200 a month.' Pulls on the auld ones' hearts-strings and their purse strings at the same time that one does. My favourite's about the 11 Million Dollars belonging to the deposed fellah in a numbered bank account. Send on your bank details and the vacuum cleaners have gone to work on it before you can say 'Mazarawe's your uncle'.

CAND: I don't think I could condone that sort of behaviour. It's unethical and almost certainly illegal.

INTVR: Don't be after getting on your high horse with me now, wee girl. This party was built on a lack of ethics and a disregard for the letter of the law. Didn't old Dev start it with the Hospital Sweepstake? Wasn't Charlie the beneficiary of many a brown envelope? And isn't deh current leader after hiding a few skellingtons in his fiscal wardrobe even as we speak? We're a party of tradition but we're not afraid to move with the times. You don't think we're interviewing Nigerians and Rumanians for the fun of it, do yeh? It wouldn't be for the votes you'd bring in that's for sure. It's the scams me dear, the scams. We could do with a few new ones, now the tribunals have copped onto us. The brown envelope has gone the way of the dinosaur. We need fresh blood and fresh ideas if we're to keep the coffers full. And there's always the fact they'd never go after a black face for the fear of being called a bunch of racists. Liberals, hah?

CAND: (Leaves with only the slamming of the door behind her)

INTVR: And what would be the problem with her I wonder? Come in, Mr Caecescu.


daOak and Wise said...

This is a wonderful analysis, a great piece of writing. Very entertaining, however, sadly it is probably how it really is. Keep up the good work!

Liam G said...

First time I've ever received praise from the other side, so doubly appreciated. I like your hat too, specially the stuff about the chips:-)