Sunday 28 December 2014

'New York Times' paints picture of Ireland where people eat pigeons to survive

Published 12/12/2013 | 15:11

The Shankill man profiled by the NYT said he has to hunt and grill pigeons to live

Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland is a land where consumer spending is flat, mortgages are constantly late and pigeons are hunted by those in need, according to an article in the New York Times.

The article, entitled 'Hardships Linger for a Mending Ireland', writer Liz Alderman writes about life in Ireland after the boom. She documents that parts of Dublin, 'Downtown Dublin' as Ms Alderman calls it, are quite prosperous, people living in other areas are still living in poverty.

She profiles 55-year-old John Donovan, who lives in his mother's cottage in Shankill. According to the article, former businessman Mr O'Donovan said he shoots pigeons and grills them outside to save money. It went on to say he used to own a five-bedroom house, boats and cars. He now works in a hospital.

“I do that just to live,” he reportedly said of his need to grill pigeons.

Mr Donovan went on to say that a lot of other people are facing problems in the Shankill area where, Ms Alderman adds,  "economic hubbub is absent." However Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor said she rejects that description of the town.

"It's actually a very vibrant and lively village and it's lovely to spend a Sunday there.

"Of course there are problems, just like every other village and town and some people find it hard, but it is a village that’s very dynamic," she said.

“There are schemes for people who are genuinely in distress. If Mr Donovan feels in distress he can contact my office or Social Protection.”

This view was backed by Fine Gael councillor John Bailey, who said it was a "thriving little village".

"People can exaggerate things. I’m very proud of the people there. It’s a picturesque beautiful village. How dare anyone criticise it like that," he said.

The piece stated emigration was a major problem here, with more than 200,000 people leaving since 2008.

"Youth unemployment is 28 percent. Over 60 percent of job seekers have been out of work for a year or more. And 20 percent of children now live in households where neither parent works, the highest rate in the European Union," it stated.

"Prime Minister Enda Kenny is planning to introduce a further €2.5 billion in spending cuts and new taxes next year."

Since the article was added, the NYT  corrected an error stating two-thirds of Irish people did not pay their mortgage on time for the last two years.

One commenter questioned the lack of protest in Ireland, writing: "It's nearly 100 years now since the last revolution here. I wonder what the next one will look like."

Jason Kennedy

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