“Banana’s – five for fifty”, “Black Cats – get your black Cats”, “Toblerones”!
Each trip I had to Dublin’s City centre as a child, I was surrounded by these phrases whenever I walked down Moore Street, one of Dublin’s oldest market streets.Whether it was ‘knock off’ sports clothing, fireworks at Halloween, fruit & veg or sweets you wanted, Moore Street was the place to go and get it at its cheapest from the Dubs (or get it at all), as in the words of Ronnie Drew, “No better place to find a real Dub, than on Moore Street”.
Dublin is very different today than it was when I was a child. Anybody of a different race, religion or nationality was a rarity in the city and beyond and over the last 15 or so years Ireland has seen a huge influx of immigration thanks largely to the country’s economic success in the noughties.
Today immigration is not just a popular topic at the bar, but influencing peoples’ every day decision making and causing major changes to the political system; the world is indeed getting smaller, and it seems less tolerant.
I recently began a Master’s Degree in Kingston University. One of the many reasons I chose Kingston University is its “commitment to its mission to be an open and inclusive international institution”. My peers on the course come from all over the globe and can offer me something I would struggle to find in Ireland in the 1980’s; an opportunity to learn from cultures, opinions, perspectives and personalities different to my own.
On one side of the Atlantic Ocean, post Brexit Europe is still coming to terms with Britain’s decision to leave the EU, and on the other, Donald Trump is closer to the White House than I ever hoped he would be. In both cases, it could be argued that immigration policy is having a profound influence on peoples’ political decisions. Although I believe there is more to Britain’s decision to leave the EU than just immigration, I don’t think it can be denied that politicians like Nigel Farage played a big part in swaying the decision with anti-immigration sentiment.
Irish people have been emigrating to the rest of the world for generations. There are countless countries which display Irish influence including the United States, Montserrat, Australia & Britain to name a few, and people as distant as Che Guevara and Barack Obama have claimed some sort of Irish heritage, but this is not isolated to Ireland or Irish people. Migration is something that every nation on this planet has experienced, is experiencing or will experience at some point in its existence. It is not a new concept, and neither is bigotry or hatred.
We have witnessed many times in history what bigotry, racism and hatred can do, especially when you have people in positions of power promoting it, and if you allow into power people that promote the building of walls, or copy Nazi propaganda tactics to promote their political agenda; if we allow history to repeat itself, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.
We need to realise that the world is better place because of immigration. Migrants makes cities stronger, more culturally diverse and can offer a taste of something different that your typical high-street cannot.
Migration can give your country better food, better footballers, wider gene-pools for more attractive people J, better music, better movies, better artists, better Olympians, wider perspectives and a more interesting life for all of us. I do need to warn you however; it can also produce nasty politicians.