Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Two Hundred And Forty Eight

Molly Odintz talks with Richard O'Rawe about his latest work. 

CrimeReads

[W]hether you’re writing a heist book, or a thriller, the thought process is the same."

Richard O’Rawe debuted last year with the breakneck noir Northern Heist, based on an infamous and still-unsolved bank robbery, and informed by the author’s own experiences as a former operative in the IRA. Now he’s back with a second novel to feature James ‘Ructions’ O’Hare, the Provo-turned-independent-operative who graced the pages of Northern Heist with foul-mouthed eloquence. In Goering’s Gold, Richard O’Rawe took on a different unsolved mystery: the disappearance of a vast Nazi hoard of pilfered treasures. O’Rawe was kind enough to answer a few questions about craft, genre, dialogue, and Irish history.

Molly Odintz: Your last book was inspired partially by your own experiences, while this new novel is grounded in history (although featuring the same main character)—how did writing the two compare?

Richard O’Rawe: In many ways the process that saw both books draw breath was similar in that each started with a ‘What if’. In the case of Northern Heist, the question was asked: What if the IRA did not carry out the massive robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast in December 2004 (all political parties in Northern Ireland and the Irish and British governments believed that the IRA had carried out the complex robbery)? Once that thought was aired, the obvious question was: Who else, other than the IRA, could have robbed the bank? And that led us (my daughter Berni and I) to come up with James ‘Ructions’ O’Hare, former IRA commander and contemporaneous master bank-robber. Developing Ructions’ character was important. He was the hero/antihero of Northern Heist, so he had to be calculating, yet grounded; ruthless, yet fair; readers needed to be persuaded that they could go against their instincts and root for an out-and-out villain. Fortunately for me, I had met a few Ructions-types in my life in the IRA, so it was not that difficult to put paint on the canvass.

As far as Goering’s Gold is concerned—the process began with a realisation that mystery still surrounds Goering’s death to this day, vis-à-vis, no one knows how he obtained the cyanide tablet he swallowed to commit suicide. Once more a ‘What if’: What if he did a deal with one of his American jailers whereby, he would give the jailer his ceremonial baton, in exchange for the cyanide tablet? Unlike when I had written Northern Heist, I had no real-life summary of events to fall back on, and I found that liberating because it meant I could take the storyline in any direction that took my fancy. The trick with Goering’s Gold was bringing Ructions and Co. into play and that was achieved through his money-laundering friend, Serge Mercier having obtained possession of Goering’s baton.

MO: Can you tell us a bit about the historical basis of the novel?

ROR: By late 1944, the allies were closing in on Germany in a pincer movement, with the Russians advancing through Poland in the east, and the Allies through France in the west. By this stage, Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering was out of favour with Adolf Hitler after having failed to live up to his promise to ensure that the Luftwaffe, the German air force, would drop enough supplies to sustain the sixth army, which had been besieging Stalingrad. Isolated, Goering realised the war was lost and, even though he hoped he could be part of a post-Nazi German government, he took out insurance by secreting gold in southern Ireland for a rainy day. To this day, it is believed that billions of dollars in Nazi gold is hidden across Europe.

MO: How does Ireland approach its history during WWII, in terms of education and memory?

ROR: Ireland remained neutral during WWII and has maintained that status ever since. It is important to remember that the Irish War of Independence against British imperialism was only over eighteen years when WWII broke out. Consequently, it went without saying that there was little appetite amongst the Irish population for joining those fighting to maintain the British empire. That said: the IRA, who were fighting against Britain’s constitutional role of Northern Ireland, did not have popular support either. An interesting facet of the IRA’s 1940s campaign was that they liaised with the Nazis to obtain weapons, even though, they abhorred national socialism.

Historically, WWII is remembered in Ireland as a time of great economic hardship, a period in history where a small country struggled to survive amid cataclysmic world events. The most salient political revelation of that period was that, seven weeks after he became prime minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill offered to work for a united Ireland if Ireland set aside its neutrality. The then Irish Taoiseach, Éamon De Valera, rejected Churchill’s offer.

MO: Northern Heist is a heist story, while Goering’s Gold is a thriller… How do the genres compare when it comes to plotting? 

ROR: Plotting a storyline is, by definition, the setting down of the actions that are carried out by individuals during the lifetime of the book (it’s actually more than that in so much that it’s a journey which defines how those individuals interact with each other in challenging circumstances). That being the case, the process whereby I look at the plot is the same because similar questions pop up: ‘What are the traits and defects of the characters in the book?’ ‘How do they react to each other when one (inevitably) messes up?’ ‘What are the consequences if this or that happening?’ ‘How will X react to Y’s overture?’ ‘Where does X want to be in five years’ time?’ So, whether you’re writing a heist book, or a thriller, the thought process is the same.

MO: Your characters speak in natural, vividly realized dialogue. What’s your secret to crafting good conversational exchanges?

ROR: An interesting question! I guess I listen closely to what other people say. For example … lots of people do not speak fluently; they hesitate in the middle of a sentence, they stutter, they double-down on a certain point or word, they raise their voices, or speak so lowly they can barely be heard. People get interrupted mid-sentence. All of those patterns need to be captured in text. Also, it’s not just a matter of writing down speech; a sentence or speech usually provokes a reaction, and it is important to catch that reaction. The speech has to flow, has to reach a point where the exchange makes sense. And there’s a bit of a balancing act in that it is very easy to slip into long bouts of dialogue; better to have small bouts of good dialogue that excruciatingly long monologues of bad dialogue. I tend to have a picture of the individual who is speaking in my imagination — usually a movie star, and I sometimes use dialogue to bring out that person’s personality.

Molly Odintz is the Senior Editor for CrimeReads and the editor of Austin Noir, forthcoming from Akashic Books. She grew up in Austin and worked as a bookseller at BookPeople, and recently returned to Central Texas after five years in NYC. She likes cats, crime novels, and coffee.

Richard O'Rawe Talks Craft, Crime, And Irish History

 

A Morning Thought @ 1469

Valerie Tarico ✒ on recovering from religion.




Valerie Tarico
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. 
She writes about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society.


Recovering From Religion

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Two Hundred And Forty Seven

Christopher Owens 🎵  “It's the good life to be free and explore the unknown/Like the heartaches when you learn you must face them alone.” - 🎸 Neil Hannon Moon.  
      

Horns Up

New Horizons 

Deathfiend – Beyond Life


Another blistering release from Johnny Doom, this time coming from the metal spectrum (hell, the name comes from Hellhammer). With influences ranging from Celtic Frost right through to Deviated Instinct, this is a remorseless record. ‘Rise From Decay’ begins as an up-tempo, d-beat style number before slowing down for maximum filth, Autopsy style. An essential release and I’m looking forward to hearing a full album from Deathfiend.


The cassette can be streamed and purchased here.


Puce Mary – You Must Have Been Dreaming


One of two releases from Copenhagen’s finest underground noise merchant (not that the market is flooded in that regard), ‘You Must…’ is more of a mixed bag owing to the variety of landscapes evident throughout the tape (ambient, sinister, classical) but they all blend together to create a lush listening experience with an undercurrent of darkness, such as ‘Faith Dealers’ hitting the listener with samples of gunshots over a backdrop of sky surfing etherealness.


The cassette can be streamed and purchased here.


 Bleakness – Life at a Standstill


With an impeccable cover reminiscent of the work of Steve Stapleton, these French punks pick up where The Wraith (RIP) left off: blending punk rock with gothy post-punk. And you know what? It makes for an enthralling listen. ‘Mechanism of Death’ leans more on the anthemic punk side, but a number like ‘Resignation Kills’ almost veers into Fall like melodies! An eccentric release but highly exciting and, I have to reiterate, an impeccable album cover.


The album can be streamed and purchased here


Merzbow - Animal Liberation Until Every Cage Is Empty


Once unfairly described as someone who had taken Boyd Rice’s “…sub-Futurist 'instant karma for kids' noise-racket…” and turning it into a brand, this album offers up a much more claustrophobic atmosphere, akin to being tortured in Guantanamo Bay (undoubtedly a deliberate parallel) due to the use of oscillator knobs creating high pitched frequencies and the booming, clanging percussion that permeates throughout. One of his finest releases.


The album can be streamed and purchased here.


 The Utopia Strong – International Treasure


Former snooker player (and prog rock aficionado) Steve Davis and Cardiacs member Kavus Torabi team up again for another sonic exploration. With bagpipes drones, arpeggiated synth lines and even a guzheng (Chinese plucked zither) thrown into the mix, the end result is a deeply trippy, sombre yet ritualistic record that pulls these varying strands together in such a compelling shape. One to be played during a sky burial in winter solstice.


The album can be streamed and purchased here.


Kitchen Cynics – Strange Acrobats


Having released albums every year since 1989, Aberdeen’s Alan Davidson has amassed quite the catalogue. Operating in terrain similar to Current 93 (with much more of an emphasis on the folk side of things) and Ivor Cutler, this is a darkly intimate album which feels like it was recorded in a damp forest after a rainfall. Standout track has to be ‘Dropped from the Dark’ owing to it’s intricate guitar lines, backwards flute and overall ambience feeling like a potential soundtrack piece.


The album can be streamed and purchased here.


Plattenbau - (=2021)


Berlin based Plattenbau (real name Aleksandr Chiesa) indulges in some Richard H. Kirk and Orb worship here by creating a tape of cerebral dance music that can be as equally appreciated as a soundtrack to and from the club as well as IDM dancefloor material. ‘Step 4’ in particular has an intensity about that is reminiscent of Fuck Buttons at their best and ‘Step 5’ feels like a heavier Chris and Cosey number.


The album can be streamed and purchased here. 


St James Infirmary – Archipelago


One of two releases this year for the cult Northumberland group, this cassette (using the term for an area that contains a chain or group of islands scattered in lakes, rivers, or the ocean for a title) is as airy and paradisiacal as its title suggests, with songs like ‘Unquiet Villa’ and ‘Shades of the Parish Hall Dance’ evoking the image of being on a paradise island, overwhelmed by the beauty and silence on display and wondering if a storm is afoot.


The album can be streamed and purchased here,

 

Golden Oldies


The Fireman - Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest


Made up of Killing Joke bassist Youth and some Scouser called Paul McCartney, the first Fireman album is a spiritual companion to the Orb’s ‘UF Orb’ album in that it’s as much a chill out record as it is a club record, with tracks like ‘Arizona Night’ suggesting a more pagan, ritualistic side to the music. Comprising of samples from Macca’s then recent ‘Off the Ground’, not only did it see him revisit his experimental side, but it also helped solidify Youth’s reputation as producer extraordinaire.


 

Sweet Exorcist – CCCD


Another collaboration, this time between Cabaret Voltaire legend Richard H. Kirk and DJ Parrot, this is a record very much of its time (the bleep techno that helped Warp make their name as THE label for IDM) and sounds quite simple in comparison to Kirky’s later releases. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that the record stands up a lot better than other releases from that period (like, say, the first Prodigy record). ‘Trick Jack’ sounds great over whatever PA is available.


 

Lust for Youth – Perfect View


Although not their most polished LP, ‘Perfect View’ is the best encapsulation of their modus operandi: to make dance music for alienated hipsters. Tracks like ‘Breaking Silence’ conjure up images of the morning sun rising on an all-night party and the scattered vocals suggest someone trying to articulate the potency of the moment but lapsing into repeated phrases. The musical equivalent of a faded Polaroid: evocative and imbued with melancholy.


x

 

New Order – Complete Music


A collection of remixes and extended tracks from the 2015 ‘Music Complete’ album, it’s surprisingly effective as a listening experience (undoubtedly due to the remixes not venturing too far from the original songs). Songs like ‘Restless’ are given more room to breathe (allowing for a grander scope) and others strip back the excess and up the tempo (‘Plastic’). New Order should do this more often. And Peter Hook is never missed.


   

Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.

Predominance 18

 

A Morning Thought @ 1468

Matt TreacyData from across the EU collated by Eurostat shows that prices for consumer goods and services are 40% higher in Ireland than the EU average. Which means that Ireland is the second most expensive EU state along with Denmark.


The fact that housing is one of the costs that are substantially higher here than in other countries – at almost 90% greater than the EU average – will come as little surprise given both the huge pressures on housing supply, and the consistent failure to meet demand.

It is somewhat surprising, or at least ought to be given the “comparative advantages” that this country ought to enjoy, that food prices in Ireland are 17.5% higher.

The increasing cost of living, of course, has become a major focus of attention here over the past number of months. Eurostat found that the cost of food in Ireland was more than 17% higher than the EU average.

Inflation in Ireland exceeded 8.3% in May – slightly higher than the EU average of 8%.

Ireland’s price level for alcohol and tobacco scored at 205 on the Eurostat index – almost twice the EU average.

Variances in price levels for tobacco and alcohol were largely due to differences in taxation, Eurostat said.

Ireland’s worst scores were in housing – coming in at 88.5% higher than the EU average – while we also fared badly for hotels and restaurants which are now revealed to be 29.5% higher than average.

Eurostat said it was presenting the most recent analysis of price levels for consumer goods and services in the European Union (EU), focusing on price level indices (PLIs), which provide a comparison of countries’ price levels relative to the EU average and are calculated using purchasing power parities.

The results are based on price surveys covering more than 2 000 consumer goods and services which were conducted across 36 European countries participating in the Eurostat-OECD Purchasing Power Parities (PPP) program. The group of participating countries includes the 27 EU Member States, three EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), five candidate countries (Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey) and one potential candidate country (Bosnia and Herzegovina).


Matt Treacy has published a number of books including histories of 
the Republican Movement and of the Communist Party of Ireland. 

Ireland Most Expensive In EU For Day-To-Day Costs ✑ 40% Higher Than Average

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Two Hundred And Forty Six

Caoimhin O’Muraile ☭ The chant, The Billy Boys can be heard often at Glasgow Rangers and Linfield football matches and on Orange parades around the six counties and Britain, particularly Glasgow and Liverpool. 

Hearts supporters also sing a version of this hate filled bigoted song which is sang to the air Marching Through Georgia. A different version of this song, totally unrelated, in fact in many respects the absolute opposite, can be heard at Old Trafford Manchester as Manchester United fans sing; We are the Busby Boys in tribute to Matt Busby United’s former legendary manager. The same song as that at Old Trafford can be heard at Broadhurst Park, home of FC United of Manchester, as their supporters also claim Matt Busby’s heritage. The Glaswegian version, unlike that of Man Utd fans, is an anti-Catholic chant and Rangers FC, in fairness, tried to ban it. UEFA looked into the possibility of banning the song but concluded that as the Scottish Government had not done so (up to that point) they were powerless. So much for kicking racism out of football as this song is in itself a kind of racist chant or, at very best, ethnocentric.

It is often erroneously thought the song was originally about the Williamite Wars in Ireland, 1689-91 and the victory of King William, the Dutch Protestant, over England’s last Roman Catholic monarch, James II. This is not an unreasonable assumption but it is wrong. The song over the years took on and evolved into a dual meaning, the original and the evolved version about the events of the late seventeenth century. King William, William III, Prince of Orange, was also known as King Billy so it is perfectly understandable how the song quickly evolved into relating historically to his victory. Having briefly examined the historical connections, referring William III “King Billy’s” victory over James II in 1691, to the chant it is time to examine the songs real origins.

The Brigton “Billy Boys” were a sectarian Glasgow gang of Protestant bigots formed in 1924 by Glasgow’s own “King Billy”, William “Billy” Fullerton. Fullerton was an arch sectarian bigot, anti-Roman Catholic, who formed this gang of notorious thugs as he had allegedly been attacked by a gang of Catholic youths. Another tale is that he was an up and coming footballer until he was injured in a game and the offending player happened to be a Roman Catholic. Whatever the reason he decided to form one of the most ruthless razor gangs in Glasgow, the “Brigton Billy Boys” named after himself. Their anthem was The Billy Boys which was adopted by sections of Glasgow Rangers football supporters. 

The area the gang came from was Bridgeton Cross in Glasgow’s east end, not far from Glasgow Celtic's football ground, the traditional Catholic club in the city. Their anthem would ring out when the gang paraded through Catholic areas where they were often opposed by the native “Norman Conks” gang, a Catholic retaliation group. The Billy Boys words were/are: 

Hello, Hello, we are the Billy Boys, 
Helllo, Hello you’ll know us by our noise. 
We are up to our knees in Fenian blood surrender or you’ll die, 
we are the Brigton Billy Boys. 

Sometimes it is changed to “up to our knees in papist blood” but the meaning is still the same. Glasgow Rangers FC tried to ban the song due to its sectarian meaning, how hard they tried is open to interpretation, but have been unsuccessful. In 2011 the Scottish government (local authority in real terms) included this song on their list of chants banned from football grounds in Scotland. It was specifically banned because of its sectarian “up to our knees in Fenian blood” line. Billy Fullerton often gave public orations against Roman Catholic and Irish immigrants in the Bridgeton Cross area and was a well known street agitator of the most right-wing kind.

The “Billy Boys” often took part in Orange parades in Belfast where the song was adopted changing the words “we are the Brigton Billy Boys, to we are the “Shankill Billy Boys” and by now the song was becoming equated with the Williamite wars in Ireland, themselves part of a much larger European conflict between Catholic France and the Protestant Dutch Republic led by William Prince of Orange. How a Prince could be head of a republic is another conundrum and would be far too long to go into for this article.

The “Billy Boys” gang were often used as expendable foot soldiers by the Conservative and Unionist Party at election times. They were used to break up Labour Party, socialist, and trade union meetings by the Tory respectable thugs in parliament. Billy Fullerton was also a notorious strike breaker during the 1926 General Strike called by the TUC in support of the miners. Despite his sectarianism, much of it privately shared by some Conservatives, he was commended by the Conservative and Unionist Party for his strike breaking. Fullerton regularly scabbed, doing the work of striking workers. Fullerton later went o to join Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (BUF) and also tried to raise a branch of the US Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as they were, like him, anti-Catholic and, again like him, anti-Black racist people. This last escapade gained little traction. He would also have been known, if not friendly with, the Conservative and Unionist MP, Archibald Ramsey. Ramsey was a supporter of the Nazi ideology and opposed the war with Hitler. He was interned along with Mosley during the Second World War.

There were many ironies surrounding Billy Fullerton because despite his well-documented hatred of Roman Catholics he often did work for some people who were Catholic by denomination. One such character who Fullerton was in the employ of was Tommy Gilmour. Gilmour was a bookmaker and boxing promoter and a Roman Catholic yet, and despite his open hatred of Catholics, “King Billy” worked for him, often to erect boxing rings, a job he was renowned for being competent at. 

After the Second World War Fullerton worked for the Glasgow bantamweight boxer, Peter Keenan, another Roman Catholic and devout Celtic supporter. Keenan was the only Scottish boxer to win two Lonsdale Belts outright, 1953 and 1957, and was held aloft on Fullerton’s shoulders on the Parkhead pitch much to the delight of the Celtic fans. Had “king Billy” changed his opinions? Or was it a question of if the price is right! It must be wondered what the views of the Celtic fans would have been had they been aware who the person carrying the boxing icon on his shoulders was.

Billy Fullerton, Glasgow’s “King Billy” died in poverty in 1962 aged 57.

The Williamite war in Ireland ended with the siege of Limerick resulting in the Jacobite forces surrendering under Patrick Sarsfield in 1691. This signalled the successful conclusion, for the aspiring bourgeoisie and British rulers, the Tories and Whigs (later the Conservative and Liberal parties) of the misleadingly termed “Glorious Revolution” and the installation of King William as the King of Ireland, as well as England and Scotland. The chant The Billy Boys was made up by sectarian bigots led by Billy Fullerton, the Billy Boys, in 1924 two hundred and thirty-three years after the Siege of Limerick and the end of the war. It quickly evolved and was adopted by the Orange Order and those who celebrate the Williamite victory as to be about “King Billy”, William III and is so to this day. The Williamite war was not, and is not, the origins of this song and it initially was not about William of Orange and his victory over James II, the last Catholic King to sit on the throne of Britain and Ireland, now “Northern Ireland” as some term it. It was initially about Glasgow’s own “King Billy”, William Fullerton. 

To this day Fullerton, despite dying in poverty, is hailed as a hero among elements within the Glasgow gangland and Orange Order, Freemasons and other Protestant triumphalist groups. In truth he was a ruthless street thug, sectarian bigot, racist and anti-Semite. Whether, as some have argued, in later life he tried to change his life around would be contradicted by the large Protestant gangland attendance at his funeral. The truth about his final years will perhaps remain shrouded in mystery and could be adapted to suit the narrative of the teller.

Caoimhin O’Muraile is Independent 
Socialist Republican and Marxist

The Origins Of The Billy Boys ✑ Sectarian Song

 

A Morning Thought @ 1467

Gowain McKenna ✒ The Irish Free State government are only concerned with fitting into an over-reaching globalist agenda, concerned solely with profit and the latest trends in 'cancel culture'. 




When put under the smallest degree of scrutiny their acts of charity coupled with the implementation of Russian sanctions can only be interpreted as virtue signalling, done entirely to appease their EU masters in Brussels.

Firstly let me be clear, this is not a critique on the Ukrainian cause for it is not a 'black and white' issue. Nor is this a critique on the refugees thereof or on the practice of immigration. Rather this is a critique on the carelessness and thoughtlessness of the Irish Free State government and it's approach to such matters along with the potential for negative and long-term consequences.

It is obviously ethical and admirable to help and assist refugees during a time of war; yet when considering the bigger picture and the mood of the Irish working class, such overtly grand gestures can only be viewed as hypocritical to the extreme. In addition, the consequences of EU-led sanctions against Russia are potentially disastrous for the Irish working class and the economic stability of Ireland.

Herein I shall argue that such manoeuvres on behalf of the Irish Free State are in fact non-benevolent and done solely to appease their masters in Brussels and the globalist elites. This is illustrative of how genuine left wing politics has been hijacked to such an extent that the primary objective is to appease elitists and globalists and engage in watery identity politics. Indeed, the majority of leftists fail to realise that the established right (and the capitalists and elites thereof) tend to be strong proponents of an open immigration policy, and not because of some moral stance, but precisely because it drives down the cost of labour to create more opportunities for profit and industrial growth, thereby strengthening the elitist position while lowering the standard of living for the working class. Furthermore, there is strong evidence to suggest that a primary concern of James Connolly was the 'dilution of labour' and the lowering of wages in the Irish job market arising from an influx of refugees from the First World War.

To continue, by all means let us help Ukrainian refugees, or any refugee for that matter, but let us do so in a mindful and sensible manner so as to create an atmosphere of acceptance and unity. It should not be done in a way that demonises and isolates Russian immigrants already here in Ireland, nor to neglect and put the needs of the Irish working class last. For what sort of gesture is that? You can’t rob Peter to pay Paul! More significantly, the Irish Free State fails to comprehend that their very actions may create an environment ripe for racism and reactionary far right rhetoric that is most unhelpful.

I realise that at this stage I may sound like a man without a heart, but I hope to persuade the reader that this is far from the case. For if you bother to get off your high horse and listen to the views of ordinary people in rural Ireland you will soon understand that people are beginning to question the government's response to the situation, and perhaps rightly so. There is without question a sea-change in public opinion. Most concerning of all is the growing undercurrent of resentment and ill feeling towards our Ukrainian neighbours that could easily be curtailed if the Irish government acted appropriately and understood the dialectic they have hurled upon the masses.

The negative ramifications are two-fold: one is economic and the other is social. On the economic front the Free State government has decided to pay hoteliers in rural towns substantial amounts of money to house the Ukrainian refugees; for make no mistake the hoteliers (being men of profit) surely aren’t doing this in the name of charity! Consequently, there has been a sharp decline in revenue in the local tourist industry (bars, restaurants etc.) Ordinarily this would not be a major issue, but when considering the current rate of inflation and cost of living crisis it is altogether a different matter for local business and local people.

Indeed, such is the nature of macro-economics and the ramifications thereof in the geo-political sphere, that there can be no doubt that the current cost of living crisis is inextricably linked to the current situation in Ukraine. Furthermore, the EU-led sanctions imposed against Russia, namely banning the importation of oil and petroleum products can only have disastrous consequences for the Irish people and working class; talk about cutting one's nose off to spite their own face!

Consequently, my main concern is the impact this is having on the Irish working class and their ability to put food on the table - and the shear hesitancy of the Irish Free State government to acknowledge the severity of the issue or to do anything meaningful about it. Yes they will try to appease the situation by providing additional social welfare schemes (under various acronyms), but the reality is such measures are mere crumbs in the grand scheme of things, not to mention the additional hoops to jump through and forms to fill out. So, it appears we are expected to just take it on the proverbial chin and say, ‘ah sure look be grand so.’

Yet, the truth is working class families simply have no economic recourse and are being slowly drained of all resources and savings. To put things into perspective, they have to pay for their children’s school books, pay to get bins emptied, pay 50 euro for a phone call from a GP, pay 50 euro for a GP appointment along with additional costs for medication etc. etc. etc. And disabled or not, medical cards are handed out like Hens teeth! Worse still, all of this amidst severe price hikes in food, petrol, rent and heating oil.

Upon arriving in Ireland Ukrainian refugees will receive: a lump sum payment, a PPS number, Irish driving licence, a medical card, and ‘bump the queue’ to become first priority on social housing waiting lists. In addition the Ukrainian language is now being taught in many Irish schools. For God forbid if the Irish language should come first, or that immigrants be forced to integrate culturally in any way shape or form. Such measures go over and beyond what is necessary and are nothing more than an insult to Irish working class people and families, many of whom are already struggling with poverty and in desperate need of work, job security and opportunities. Naturally, the end result of all this is an atmosphere of growing resentment and racism to our Ukrainian neighbours.

Critics of the points made out in this essay will no doubt argue that the Irish working class are not living in a war torn land surrounded by bombs and destruction, and therefore said argument is built on a foundation of sand. Yet I would put it to such critics that the Irish government still has an onus to care for its most vulnerable citizens; and that poverty is poverty, hunger is hunger and homelessness is homelessness whether it occur in wartime or not.

To conclude, the Irish government should open the borders to Ukrainian refugees, but it must do so in a sensible way to ensure that there is parity in the support provided. In this way, support provided to Ukrainian refugees should be on par with social support provided to Irish families or any other immigrant and foreign national. In addition, EU-led sanctions imposed against Russia should be challenged and brought to an end, because such sanctions also serve to harm and impoverish Irish citizens. 

Corrective measures such as these will help to slow the growing resentment, racism and anti-immigrant feeling that is beginning to fester here in Ireland - and therefore help to block the growing agenda of far right elements intent on exploiting such disparities for their own nefarious ends.

⏩ Gowain McKenna is a writer, structural engineer (marine), musician, political theorist (and sometimes poet). His political compass is far-left moderate libertarian and identifies himself as an Irish Republican first and foremost and Connolly socialist second. He runs a blog The Road To No Town and he has three degrees in the field of aerospace engineering: - M.Phil M.Sc B.Eng (Hons)

Ukraine ✑ Ireland's Cause?

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Two Hundred And Forty Five