A few remarks on fatal stabbings of Pawel Kalite and Mariusz Szwajkos

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"We should not be shy in talking honestly to the media about its responsibility to create a more reflective view of our presence in Ireland, i.e. more attention must be given to fighting against stereotypes and prejudices which if left unchallenged result in ignorance."

This is a quote from a statement inviting to a roundtable discussion spurred after a recent fatal stabbing of two Polish nationals Pawel Kalite and Mariusz Szwajkos in Drimnagh on February 23rd. The discussion is organised by Polish Information and Culture Centre in Dublin and aims to identify the underlying causes of  increasing tension between Irish nationals and foreign nationals in  Ireland (another quote from the same website).

The media coverage of the stabbings has been extensive. President Mary McAlees attended the remembrance service in memory of the two young men along with Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan and Minister of State Conor Lenihan. After talking tonight with a Polish friend of mine on the tragedy and on public reaction to it, we were wondering if the same reaction would have surged if two Irish nationals had been killed. Or French. Or... To suggest that the underlying reason behind these horrible crimes is racism or xenophobia would mean to find an easy explanation. Moreover, escalation of this tragedy as a basis for the previously mentioned discussion will not reduce any tensions. The bottom line is that such examples of random brutal violence become more and more frequent on the streets of Dublin.

Racism in this case would be an easy explanation, and an easy one. Yet the main point is that you and me can be attacked by kids armed with screwdrivers for reasons as simple as refusal to buy alcohol for them.

Some people in cases like these tend to say "oh, it's north Dublin" or "oh, it's dysfunctional families". A while ago one Irishman told me that in his opinion Dublin is not divided into North or South. It is East and West, he said. Either way the point is that this expanding city is becoming more and more fractured. I couldn't define a Dubliner after almost three years of living here. I observe numerous Dublins on a daily basis and one of them is where kids walk in grey, pink or white bottom tracksuits sporting spiky hair, short fringes, frightening attitudes and hands in their pants as if to check if they haven't lost their bits somewhere along the way. My friend bumped into a few of them some time ago and was asked if she 'wanted some of this'. Another friend of mine was mugged by a bunch of teenagers as he was walking somewhere besides Parnell Street. A regular customer of ours returned from shopping in town after not being there, in her words, for about 10 years and observed that she was upset by the number of security guards in the city centre.

It seems that as the economy was thriving, some problems where overlooked in Ireland and tragedies like the one in Drimnagh on the 23rd of February serve as an alert. Although some suspect racist reasons, I think the main concern should be the fact, that the education of children in this country oftentimes is neglected and instead is substituted with immense freedom, which results in yob culture (Martina Devlin made a very strong statement on this a while ago).

We should ask ourselves if we would be as disturbed by a tragedy like this if somebody else had been killed. Or shall we start regarding violence it as part of Dublin culture? This would be yet another tragedy. I think discussions about such issues would be more beneficial.

This Post has 1 Comment Add your own!
Christophe - March 5, 2008 at 11:40 PM

I'm in 100% agreement Lina but this has been something, we were saying along time before multiculturalism dawned in Ireland. There has always been disconnection, alienation, etc.

The courage to tackle it has always been lacking and it erupts from time to time onto the nations broadsheets and tabloids in this horrible and fantastic way from time to time.

Very depressing altogether.

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