PERHAPS THE MOST well-defined Irish politician is Michael McDowell. You know what you're getting when you give Michael McDowell a platform. Now he is defining a platform for the Progressive Democrats and his initial work with the platform shows he knows more about the electorate than many public opinion surveys. That's because McDowell knows what a significant percentage of the voters really want the government to do with immigration. They want it throttled back.
As a migrant worker in Ireland, I have felt this throttling effect, most notably when I got stamped out of the country a few years ago. Lacking the requisite stamps in my passport, I spent an evening in Mount Joy prison and then I got an all-expenses paid trip to New York. It was a short break because I returned on my own power a week after seeing my father alive for the last time. I feel I owe Michael McDowell, the Irish Minister for Justice, heartfelt thanks for this deportation exercise. Without it, I would have missed visiting with my dad before his death due to cancer a few months later.
Returning to Ireland, I discovered that more than 300,000 other people were migrants like me. That's 10% of the Irish population. Around my estate, 80% of voters want increased restrictions on immigration. Although we're all friends around these parts, there's sometimes a lot to do to get around the fact that we're not from Tipp and worse--Ruth hails from Dublin, something that is forgiven once she enunciates her surname and citizens recognise it's a name of a street plus on the tombs of dozens who defended the city against Cromwell.
Anyway, McDowell's policies would punt me from the island if I were attempting to do more than visit Ireland as a tourist. McDowell's policies would protect people in their homes from thugs with drugs but not blacks or Asians who wander through a late-night drunken crowd out for a laugh. Because, as we all know, many of those non-Caucasians aren't really locals who need the State. As many hard-right commentators would have it, if you're not Irish by appearance, you're sponging off the welfare system.
I am not making this up. I'm gathering the evidence from pub chat and from craftsmen who service my car, repair my house, and deliver my goods.
So when I hear a Minister articulating State policy that gives standing to the prejudice of those who will elect him to another term, I start to think of ways I can articulate my concerns. It probably means getting involved in the next general election--if any party would have my American accent working as part of door-to-door canvassing.
Richard Delevan -- "Mac sides up to the frightened majority" on the Comment Pages of the Sunday Tribune, 17 Sep 06.