Polish murder latest attack on foreign nationals

The 16 year old who murdered two Polish workers ‘high-fived’ with friends before he was turned in to gardai. It emerged that members of the teenage gang shouted: ‘go back to Poland, you Polish b*****d’.Gardai believe the offender used a six inch screwdriver in the early evening attack on Saturday 23rd February, 2008.The attack began near a takeaway on Benbulbin Road, Drimnagh. It appears there was an exchange of words with a gang of 10 young people outside. Two girls texted a male friend who arrived on the scene and hit one of the Polish men on the head.CCTV footage shows the gang chasing the young man before he sought refuge in his home. He was crying and bleeding at that stage and his friends begged him to stay inside. However he said he could not put up with being intimidated in the area where he lived and went out to confront the young people.At this stage the killer had a screwdriver. Pavel Kalite was then stabbed in the throat and head before toppling to the ground, where he lost a lot of blood. His friend Marius who went to his assistance to fight off the youngster suffered appalling injuries when the youth plunged the screwdriver into his left temple causing irreversible damage.Increase in attacks on foreign nationalsWhile it is apparent that there were racist motives in this attack, it is the latest in a series of attacks on foreign nationals living in Ireland. Last month, a 35 year old Polish man was set alight by an improvised flamethrower in Limerick.The man, who had only arrived in the country before suffering permanent scarring as a result. The youths sprayed flammable liquid over him after he refused to hand over alcohol to them.Last week, a 19year old and 20year old were jailed for more than five years for separate attacks on a Chinese man and a German tourist. The Chinese national who was living in Dublin, was thrown in to the Royal Canal by the men after they tried to rob him.Last April, Estonian Valerii Ranert was beaten to death by a gang of youths who hijacked his car on the Naul Road in north Dublin.Many Polish people will be extremely angry or frustrated for to them it shows the level of extremity that hate can take in some people and the realisation that it could have been them.   While many in mainstream Ireland have failed to acknowledge the presence and extent of racism, in 2006 a comprehensive survey of the ESRI revealed that 1/3 immigrants experienced racism.It is being seen by some Poles who have written in websites that it is reflective of a trend that ‘the Irish no longer like us’. Unfortunately it has been the case that some people of Irish nationality may never have liked them or many others. The youth who committed this attack is described as being from a dysfunctional family. Racism towards Polish may just have been one of many emotions at work in the mind of the youth as he committed this dreadful act.Yet in the increase sense of job insecurity particularly within the construction industry where many Polish work, this feeling that a changed in mood against them will be accutely felt by Polish workers. Even in a country of near full employment for the past number of years, segregation has been a feature of the changed demographic Ireland.This segregation and growth of parrallel communities of varying nationalities has been an increasing feature with increased immigration. In 2004, tens of thousands of workers from eastern Europe moved to Ireland and in this group many did not have English. Even though they have been able to get jobs in the past number of years, without English, they will have an increased sense of isolation from mainstream Ireland.With this there is a resentment against immigrants amongst a section of Irish people. They include those who have both benefited from the boom but particularly those who have not. Perhaps it is out of a sense of fear of what is to come or out of an insecurity of their own sense of identity. It is a feeling I have come across in different environments.The government has committed €9million to supporting the integration of immigrants in Ireland. In the context firstly of the annual budget of an overall exchequer spend of €51b for 2008; this is but a drop in the ocean. Add to this the fact that our country has experienced immigration of a proportion more rapid and more profound in its impact on us as compared to any other in the world.The issue of integration and immigration is the most profound questions facing Irish politics. Increased integration leads to reduced racism. It is thus important to note that integration cannot be achieved without also tackling racism. This week’s murder and the increasing attacks on foreign nationals are but a warning to us all. We are now past the stage of preventing racism and the open door of opportunity to respond to a diverse Ireland is closing. It is up to us to respond by acting against racism and building a cohesive community.

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