Monday, November 16, 2009

Explosive chatter

Has it been two months already? Bugger.

You just get used to hunting wild bison in Yellowstone in November, skinning your prize using only otter teeth and a lot of determination, and suddenly here you are, back at your desk again.

Life is not without a sense of perspective.

What could draw a person back from seclusion like that? The Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kevin Kiely, had a few things to say about non Irish nationals claiming our unemployment assistance and other social welfare benefits while giving nothing back to society, aside from showing us how to do a dead lift properly.

The Board isn't going to weigh in with a holier-than-thou destruction of the Mayor's point. He's already received quite a seeing to in the national press in that regard.

But I would like to add a little perspective to this - having worked for the Department of Social Welfare in my box car years before becoming a journalist, I can say that the numbers of foreign nationals claiming welfare, rightly or wrongly, is minuscule compared to the popular stigmas on the matter lazily referred back to by the likes of Cllr Kiely when they want to strike a populist note or two.

For example, out in West Limerick there are 25,124 people living in the area. How many of these, do your figure, are from Eastern Europe? 6,000? 4,000?


Granted, this does not include the main urban hub, but even with the city taken into account the demographics will not be too ary. The Polish have, simply, all gone home.

While Mayor Kiely may win some cheap publicity by decrying the foreign national as the main culprit in our huge social welfare bill, I assure him that the real villain is the Irish person stealing €25,000 in lone parent allowances while living with their partner, or working and signing at the same time, or nominally taking part in dud FAS courses so that they can continue to claim their allowance of more than €200 per week.

PS - If you're wondering where The Board has actually been these past months, the truth is here. He has been writing about this place:

Playing rugby for this crowd:

Listening to this fella:

And reading this:

At least two of those activities have been worth it so far.

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