Which brings me to this tonight -
If you don't already know the 12th and 13th of July are Public Holidays here in Northern Ireland. I won't go into the full details of why but briefly the 12th July is the day when members of the Orange Order (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Order ) hold their annual and largest demonstration in towns and villages throughout the country. The night of the 11th July is the traditional 'bonfire' night when fires are lit again in many areas.
This year (as per the report) there was several instances when the Polish Flag was burned at the event and anti-Polish sentiment was expressed.
Needless to say i am disgusted and ashamed of this type of behaviour.
There are now estimated to be over 30,000 Poles living in Northern Ireland. With a total population of approx. 1.5 million that figure does represent a significant minority. Unfortunately there is always going to be certain 'element' who view this as some sort of threat. There have been similar incidents throughout most of Western and Central Europe against similar minority groups.
There are 3 Polish families now living on my street. There is a Polish shop in the centre of my town and the local large supermarket has a section which stocks Polish food brands. On a day to day basis i have witnessed nothing whatsoever that would indicate any bitterness or resentment towards the Polish Community. So where does this sort of behaviour begin? I have several theories -
1. With the situation in Northern Ireland being relatively quiet over the last few years local trouble makers are turning their attention to next available 'easy target'. There remains large parts of the community who are anti-Catholic (or anti-Protestant). Poles tend to be Catholic and such are a target.
2. Several years ago Northern Ireland played Poland in a World Cup Qualifier Football game in Belfast. There was significant crowd trouble between fans. In the direct aftermath there was some attacks on Polish homes and business premises.
3. A Polish lady stood for election last year for one of the Irish republican parties. A decision which will not have been appreciated amongst the Unionist community. I must admit that i found the decision curious myself? If this is the way the lady feels why did she not settle in the Republic of Ireland to begin with?
4. The worldwide economic downturn has led to a high level of unemployment here and some blame Polish immigrants of taking jobs that should be available to locals.
Whatever the reasons (or perceived reasons) this sort of action is wrong on so many levels.
Here endeth the lesson.