For those who never heard of the Limerick Post (and that would include everyone who doesn’t live in Limerick), let me explain what it is.
The Post is a free sheet, pushed through every letterbox. It earns its crust by advertising, and to that extent it performs a useful service, especially for the dwindling number of readers who can’t use a computer. You can find out where to buy garden furniture, how to sign up for a course and what’s on in those music venues that paid for an ad.
You can look up who died and when they’ll be buried. You can read quasi-articles about anti-wrinkle injectables and fashion-show extravaganza fundraisers.
All par for the course in a small organ aimed at a smallish city. It’s good. That’s the service free ad sheets offer.
But sometimes, such publications start to get ideas about themselves. Sometimes a free advertising sheet can start to think of itself as a real newspaper and before you know where you are, it starts to take itself seriously.
That’s where the trouble starts.
This week the Limerick Post ran an editorial defending an article it published in the previous issue, and it seems logical to start there, since anyone reading it might easily form the impression that the Limerick Post was under attack.
The article is titled
[dropshadowbox]Limerick Post defends immigrant worker against attack by human rights group.[/dropshadowbox]
Now, it’s rare that we can’t get beyond the headline before starting the analysis, but the Limerick Post has given us this opportunity.
Nobody was attacked.
The human rights group Doras Luimní took issue with statements attributed to an anonymous individual quoted in the earlier Post article. That’s all. Since the Post was unwilling to identify the source of the inflammatory statements they published, Doras Luimní, even if they wished to do so, were not in a position to attack anyone.
Clearly, somebody with influence in the free sheet doesn’t like being contradicted, and in an extraordinarily Trump-like hissy fit, chose to present criticism as an attack. I think we can see where this is going. The opening sentence of the editorial sets out the sheet’s position on the matter:
[dropshadowbox]The Limerick Post newspaper has accused a local human rights group of trying to silence the dissenting voice of a vulnerable immigrant worker and stifle the right to free editorial expression.[/dropshadowbox]
There you have it. Free editorial expression. Translate that into English and you see an outraged, red-faced bully kicking toys out of the pram. And again, if the bully behind those words understood what they were talking about, of course they would understand that free editorial expression does not include the freedom to promote vile inaccuracies and generalisations. Perhaps it would be better to report births, deaths and marriages and leave it at that.
Of course, the hubris doesn’t end there.
[dropshadowbox]… as the biggest circulating newspaper in the Mid West, it had an unparalleled reputation for promoting racial equality and integration in the region.[/dropshadowbox]
Translated into English, this means …
Well, actually this means absolutely nothing. This is simply huffing and puffing. A capable sub-editor would have been able to point this out, but of course, in the times we live in, professionals are expensive.
The real meat of the editorial comes in the following shifty paragraph:
[dropshadowbox]We stand by our report in last week’s edition in which we gave voice to an immigrant worker in a Limerick direct provision centre who expressed his concerns about increased radicalisation among young men in the centre. He claimed that staff were subjected to physical attacks and mental abuse by gangs of radical young Muslim men.[/dropshadowbox]
Of course, this isn’t what was complained about at all, as we’ll see shortly.
What the Post actually reported had little to do with conditions in the asylum centre. What they actually reported was this anonymous character’s uncorroborated opinions about immigrants in general. What the Limerick Post printed was, in reality, a shabby ill-researched pastiche of a standard Daily Mail article, recast to suit consumers of a free advertising sheet.
The current editorial is a classic example of the techniques used by schoolyard bullies for generations when confronted with their own actions.
Deny. Deny. Deny.
I have no idea who the person is behind that editorial, but the attitude is certainly that of the overbearing schoolyard bully who can’t cope with being confronted. And of course, the classic behaviour of confronted bullies is to present themselves as the victims:
[dropshadowbox]We abhor efforts by Doras Luimni to try to silence the dissenting voice of a vulnerable immigrant worker and their attempts to stifle editorial expression by the Limerick Post. We will spare no effort to defend our commercial and reputational interests in the face of an orchestrated social media campaign that is designed to stifle the very concept of freedom of the press.[/dropshadowbox]
There you have it. An organisation that defends immigrants is oppressing them, and the Limerick Post is the victim of an orchestrated social media campaign. What grade of self-pity is that? What level of paranoia, or perhaps arrogance, could prompt such a pathetic statement?
Moving on, let’s take a look at the original Limerick Post article that caused such distress.
It opens as follows:
[dropshadowbox]A man working in a Limerick refugee centre claims that staff have been subjected to physical attacks and mental abuse by individuals and gangs of radical Muslim men living in the centre.[/dropshadowbox]
Well and good. So far, the article is all about the asylum centre, even though the individual is not identified. Naturally, nobody would expect him to be identified, given the sensitivity of the subject, but the article also fails to provide a corroborating source for any of the quotes that follow. We are invited to accept that a series of statements by an anonymous individual, without supporting evidence, is true.
The man, described as of Middle Eastern origin, yet oddly assigned the pseudonym Ivan, has much to say. He has lived in Ireland for ten years and apparently approached the Limerick Post which no doubt he saw as a far more powerful organ than the Indo, the Irish Times, the Mirror or even the Leader.
In typical Middle-Eastern language, Ivan described what he saw as a worsening situation.
[dropshadowbox]I have dealt with these people personally and have had a lot of conversations with them in relation to their personal life, social life and religious beliefs. In some of them I have found a worrying level of extremism, bordering on hatred, which could potentially manifest in some sort of devastating way, as their numbers will continue to rise.[/dropshadowbox]
A Middle-Eastern man who sounds exactly like Nigel Farage is a remarkable thing.
I don’t have a problem with their religion or the background they come from, but we need to face facts, Ivan adds, which hardly comes as a shock since Ivan presumably has the same religion and background. On the other hand, of course, maybe it isn’t so surprising for a man whose language patterns have morphed so drastically from Arabic to tabloid-speak.
Moving on. It’s at this point that the Limerick Post segues from the particular to the general. Now we’re reading about things that Ivan the Arab can’t possibly know.
[dropshadowbox]There are cheaters in the direct provisional system getting protection and privileges that they don’t deserve and that should be a big concern. Obviously not everyone who has immigrated to Ireland can be painted with the same brush, but we must be careful of the wolves among the sheep.[/dropshadowbox]
This is a statement so crass that it hardly counts as journalism. Of course there are cheaters. Where there are human beings there is cheating. No Pulitzer Prize for the person who wrote this article.
This is where the Limerick Post goes into full Identity Ireland mode.
[dropshadowbox]‘Ivan’ claims all direct provisional centres in Limerick are full, and in some cases beyond capacity, as a result of the EU migrant crisis and the new immigration policy in the UK.[/dropshadowbox]
This is simply untrue.
Ireland has taken almost nobody in as a result of the migrant crisis. This is plain, old-fashioned scaremongering and the Limerick Post knows it, which is why they are now engaged in such pompous, self-pitying huff and puff. Bullies hate it when they’re caught out.
[dropshadowbox]I have come to understand that the goings on in direct provisional centres are quite different from what mass media and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are reporting. Radical minded economic migrants, who are mostly students and workers, have filled up a large number of vacancies within the direct provisional system”.
‘Ivan’ says that many have breached their UK visa conditions and taken advantage of the open border from Northern Ireland.[/dropshadowbox]
Ivan knows no such thing.
Ivan, if he exists at all, is a worker in a single centre in Limerick.
This is guff printed by the Limerick Post because it sounds good, and sadly, it’s dangerous guff. Dangerous, ignorant nonsense that gives comfort to the racist extremists among us.
Ivan, apparently, has access to people’s medical records: I have come across people who visit GP’s for silly things such as blisters around their nails, and take advantage of what I believe is a system with many flaws.
Ivan, who of course doesn’t speak anything like a Daily Mail reporter said:
[dropshadowbox]… the Department of Justice is aware that many migrants who cheat the system in Ireland have arrived from the UK.
Why haven’t they taken any measures to deport them back to the country where they first came from? A ‘no nonsense’ stance from the Irish government will see the people who need asylum the most afforded the opportunity.[/dropshadowbox]
A no-nonsense stance. Isn’t that exactly what you’d expect an Arab asylum worker to demand? Of course it is.
Not to mention a right-wing rabble-rousing free rag with a bullying mentality and an inability to deal with criticism.
Ivan the imaginary Arab.
We await with interest the outcome of Doras Luimní’s complaint to an Garda Síochána.