‘Throwing a bit of a Paddy’ is a racially offensive slur…the BBC should apologise

Is there a sneaky, almost conspiratorial, undercurrent of anti-Irish sentiment emerging from some so-called hardline Brits, in particular from a few sports journalists?

I only ask given Sky Sports News presenter Rob Wotton’s question last month to Ireland player Chloe Mustaki asking ‘if education is needed’ for the Republic of Ireland team following their innocent celebratory dressing room rendition of one of my favourite songs, Celtic Symphony.

As if Wotton’s insinuation wasn’t insulting enough, last weekend, when referring to Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Erik ten Hag’s disagreement (when the footballer walked off before the end of a Man United match with Tottenham Hotspur), a BBC Sports live blog posted the racially insensitive comment ‘throwing a bit of a Paddy’. How disgustingly inappropriate is that? Both Mr Wotton and the BBC’s blog poster appear to have absolutely no knowledge of the hurtful history between our two countries. I find their comments to be dangerously provocative.

For anyone who’s not familiar with the derogatory term ‘throwing a bit of a Paddy’, let me, as a proud Irish woman, enlighten you. It’s a racially offensive slur levelled against Irish people because we had the audacity, nay the cheek, to complain about eight hundred years of British oppression, in particular (I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong) about William of Orange, whose army murdered many Catholics.

Now we’ve got the history bit out of the way, let me say that while I feel highly affronted by the use of that phrase, unlike many Irish people, I’m far from being enraged by it. Why? Because I see the situation for what it possibly is, i.e. a profoundly ignorant individual, who whilst waiting on their sense of humour transplant, decided to take a swipe at our highly refined and sophisticated Irish culture, all for the sake of a cheap laugh.

As it’s always been my view that ignorance is born out of intolerance, and normally driven by a lack of knowledge, whenever I’m in the presence of a clueless amadán (who’s neither worth my time nor my argument), my reaction is usually to laugh loudly at them and then walk away!

But here’s the thing, my fellow countrymen and women. Despite my refusal to engage in a battle of wits with someone displaying such ignorance, I couldn’t let this ‘doing a bit of a Paddy’ post go unmentioned in my musings. While I’m sure the poster may have innocently believed their remark to be entertaining, I believe it to be loaded with toxic dismissal and casual disdain.

In fact for me, it was right up there with those boorish potato jokes. So to that end, I’m wondering why an apology has not been forthcoming. I’m not sure how you’re feeling folks, but it really ticks me off to know that those who shaped our nation’s fate can dish it out, yet clearly can’t take it.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that an innocent lyric from a great song unleashed a dramatic sense of shock and horror from across the water, causing a barrage of abuse to be levelled at our women’s football team which was so forceful that they had to issue a national apology. Double standards or what?

Look folks, perhaps the person who posted the ‘Paddy’ comment was oblivious to the hurt they caused. Perhaps it’s because the emotional weight of colonisation and oppression didn’t rest heavily on their shoulders; they weren’t (like us) raised on songs, stories, and heroes of renown, meaning the intricacies of Anglo-Irish relations sailed right over their head. Who knows? Either way, ‘education is needed’, right Mr Wotton?

If (and I’m just using this as an example) the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which operates under royal charter, used such a derogatory and hateful slur when commenting about a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or a person of colour, I’m certain there’d be worldwide outrage…and rightly so. Get your act together and put your house in order Aunty Beeb!

Gardaí are doing a difficult job, so pay them properly!

According to a report in this week’s Irish Independent, ‘four out of every ten Garda stations in Ireland recorded an increase in crime last year compared to pre-Covid levels’.

How did this happen? I mean, wasn’t the entire country under lockdown? How did thieves get the opportunity to steal cars and break into properties and businesses if everyone was at home? And why did they even try if there was a greater risk of them being caught red-handed?

I’ll tell you why: they don’t give a damn! And why don’t they give a damn? Because they know that if caught, they’re likely to get away with a few stern words and a slap on the wrist. At worst, they face a few months in prison and/or a paltry fine before being set free to reoffend over and over again. That’s why!

It must be so frustrating to be a Guard these days. Imagine how it feels putting on that uniform, turning up for duty, placing your life at risk catching criminals, charging them, filling in the paperwork and successfully securing a prosecution in the hope you’ll be able to keep them off the streets, only to have them laugh in your face!

There’s something wrong with a system which appears to offer more protection and less scrutiny to those who break the law than it does to both those who obey it and the Gardaí who try hard, day in, day out, to protect, serve, and keep us safe.

I’m personally sick of hearing stories of criminals and delinquents who, once they get in front of a judge, break down and start whinging about how they came from ‘a bad area’, how they ‘experienced a traumatic childhood’, and how ‘mammy didn’t love me’! Oh boohoo!

So what? I was raised in a so-called ‘hot spot’ area of Dublin, my childhood was, to put it mildly, traumatic, and guess what: my mammy didn’t love me either. And yet, I’ve never once in my entire life been in any sort of trouble.

I have huge respect for An Garda Síochána, in particular the hard-working rank and file members who have an enormously difficult job, a job which they are not, in my opinion, properly paid to do.

Perhaps if our government started paying these men and women a wage which fully reflects the great danger they face on a daily basis, as well as affording them better methods of protecting themselves, morale wouldn’t be low, the force wouldn’t be haemorrhaging members, and crime rates would drop.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, can I congratulate members of Castlerea Garda station whose crime rates have (according to the Indo’s article) dropped by ‘minus 49 per cent’. Well done to you all!

May Lynsey’s gentle, brave and beautiful soul rest in peace

Another victim of our nation’s CervicalCheck scandal sadly passed away last Thursday, and was laid to rest in our neighbouring county of Longford.

Lynsey Bennett first came to our attention when, standing on the steps of Dublin’s High Court, she gave her heartbreaking and devastating statement about how she’d ‘settled an action’ over what was an alleged cervical cancer misdiagnosis.

Lynsey was only 34 years old, yet she lost her life to ‘an invasive form of cervical cancer’. She leaves behind two little girls, Zoé (13) and Hailee (8).

I remember sobbing when I heard Lynsey describe how she was using her settlement to set up a trust fund for her children, so that when the time came for them to have to live without their beloved mammy, they’d be free of ‘financial worries’ and could ‘pursue’ their dreams.

No woman’s life should have been lost because of a disgraceful medical scandal. No family should have been shattered. No child should have been left motherless due to someone’s ‘negligence’. And no senior medical advisor who advises against a review of the CervicalCheck screening system when inconsistencies were first exposed, should be conferred with the Freedom of Dublin city. Yet Dr Tony Holohan both received and accepted this accolade.

May Lynsey’s gentle, brave, and beautiful soul rest in peace. My heart goes out to her little girls, her family, her friends and to all those who loved this amazing young lady.