Wednesday 20 March 2019

In Pole position for holiday rush

Pat Fitzpatrick finds the upside to last week's welfare furore

Pat Fitzpatrick

THE Furious Brigade (Cumann na Fury) was out in force last week.

An article written about a Polish woman living on social welfare in Co Donegal appeared in the Polish press. The Irish media then stepped in with excerpts of the article to show that Magda, as she was called, lived next to the sea, went surfing every day and got €267 a week compared to the €36 she'd get on welfare back at home.

The Furious Brigade didn't need to be asked twice. They haven't yet calmed down since hearing people collect the dole in pyjamas. So they jammed up the airwaves, demanding all kinds of action into their spittle-flecked phones. Donegal Labour Senator Jimmy Harte even went on air to say he would buy Magda a one-way ticket home. He later said he wouldn't. Good man, Jimmy -- consistency isn't all it's cracked up to be.

The full version of the article appeared later, where it emerged that in fact Magda and her partner had a frugal existence and that she was in the process of starting her own business to get off welfare. The Furious Brigade retreated, with one ear on Liveline, waiting for the next outrage.

Fury aside, this episode shows the way forward for tourism in this country. While we were getting our knickers in a twist over Magda, Polish people picked up a newspaper and learned that Donegal has endless beaches, great golf and some of the best surfing in the world. Talk about a free ad. Forget about expensive marketing campaigns -- Tourism Ireland should commission a bunch of "welfare tourists" to tell their story in the newspapers back home. A German woman on the dole in Dingle who swims with Fungie twice a week,sure that's wunderbar.

Two things to watch out for: they must mention that people who come over for two weeks in a B&B won't get the dole; and they must not mention the Furious Brigade.

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