Monday, February 23, 2009

Are we really surprised?

Despite all the shouts and pointed fingers, Limerick's reputation for moyder and other violent tomfoolery just isn't going away.
The eagle-eyed men of the Limerick Blogger found this piece from the Belfast Telegraph over the weekend which claimed that a fatal stabbing in Cork City had actually taken place in Limerick.
Knowing how such things work, the journalist who wrote the story is not responsible for the inaccurate headline. This was a sub-editing error which, considering that the Telegraph is an Independent News and Media title, was most likely carried out by an 18-year-old in north western India. I assume the geography of Munster isn't too high on the syllabus out there.
In truth, this comes back to perception. The story of the Cork murder is accurately researched, but the second it lands on the web editor/sub editor's desk it immediately gets annexed by Limerick.
It was a stupid mistake, yes, but more worryingly it was a subliminal mistake. It says enough about the stigmas attached to our city that someone thinks 'stabbing', 'death' and immediately thinks 'Limerick'.
The Board doesn't claim to care about what other people think of Limerick. Living your life constantly obsessed with other people's opinions just isn't healthy. But there are people who do care, people who are affected by stereotypes, people who may not know much about Limerick but may be seeking to invest here, maybe move here with their young families.
Throwing a fact sheet of falling crime rates and a stern list of 'Dublin media' inaccuracies proved wrong at them won't do much to alter this instinctive caution.
If the local media can't change it, and the collective scorn of the citizens can't change it, what can?
This is a generation game; a problem that will only be erased once Limerick has grown into the coming decades as a thriving, safe and fair place to live and work. Today it is unequal and deprived.
No one knows how long this will take. But the building blocks are in front of us - first in the scandalously overdue extension of the city boundary, and the first phases of regeneration thereafter.
It is within our capacity to fix this, and fix it we must.

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