NewsTalk’s Breakfast show held an interesting discussion this morning as presenters Shane Coleman and Ciara Kelly spoke about how Ireland needs to bring in 500,000 immigrants to fill low skilled positions.
The segment began with Kelly presenting the “fact” that “you can’t get a taxi in Dublin” adding that, “if you go into a cafe or a restaurant it’s slow and they say I’m really sorry we don’t have enough staff’. I don’t get taxis often but I’m quite sure the city has 16,000 licensed cabs which sounds like enough considering Dublin Bus runs a decent service (depending on your destination and what time you’re on the move).
The claim that restaurants and cafes routinely apologise for delays in service due to staffing shortages doesn’t sound right either.
To be fair – knowing how the mainstream media works – there’s little doubt in my mind that these assertions did not form organically in the minds of either Coleman or Kelly. I’m sure they have a set of ideas they are ‘encouraged’ to push.
Kelly continued “If you go into the airport, indeed other public places the bathrooms haven’t been cleaned”. Now I’m not sure where she likes to go or how clean she wants public bathrooms to be, but I’m quite sure this too is an exaggeration.
Coleman took the flaming baton saying, “What we need, I think, is half a million immigrants coming into this country”.
They did acknowledge the elephant in the room that there is a severe housing shortage – so severe I might add – that the French Embassy issued a warning to people planning on coming here that they will likely experience huge difficulty finding somewhere to live.
‘What I would love to see’ added Coleman, ‘is a real radical approach like TK Whitaker’s approach in the late 1950s and 60s.’
“We do not have enough workers in this country,” he says.
Kelly did acknowledge rightly that the “fallout from lockdowns” has had a detrimental effect on the service industry – indeed that is the reason Dublin airport is a shadow of its former self and the loos may not be cleaned as often as they might.
She warned that if the half million newcomers arrive too suddenly it could “create more problems than we could solve” saying many of them might not speak English well.
NewsTalk wants their low skilled workers to come in, pour their coffee, clean the toilets they use, and drive them around and to be great at English too.
All this reminds me of Kelly Osbourne’s ill-advised comment asking Donald Trump who he thought would be cleaning his toilet if he kicked “every Latino” out of the US.
Of course she was immediately called a racist and I’m sure she deeply regrets the assertion, which to my mind strongly implied that the real reason the middle class business owner types want unlimited immigration is the cheap flow of labour it provides them.
According to Ciara Kelly “a lot of Irish people don’t want to do these jobs”. If business owners – in the absence of hoards of immigrants from economically poorer countries- felt obliged to pay Irish staff a decent and competitive wage, by that token conditions would become more favourable for workers.
Only days ago Senator Sharon Keogan made an appeal to Irish young people not to leave this country telling them they “deserve the same opportunities to own your own homes as previous generations”, and pleading with them to “Demand better from your politicians”.
I recently accompanied some friends visiting from Germany and Korea to Temple Bar. I was dumbfounded by the almost total lack of Irish staff in any of the pubs and restaurants we visited.
I wondered what was Irish about the place anymore? An Eastern European waitress apparently eager for us to hurry up and leave so the next group of gormless tourists could replace us – asked us if we were ‘taking a break’ when we put our cutlery down (mid eating) to speak to each other.
Temple Bar was no craic at all. Indeed many, almost all of the bars, restaurants, and hotels I have visited of late are entirely staffed by foreign nationals.
Irishness – the traditional friendly funny disposition of the Irish people is a huge part of what made this country such an attractive destination. I for one feel much of that has been lost.