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Irish are lost for words over thorny issue of immigration

And still, no debate on immigration, none whatever; and never mind the pusillanimous, left-liberal media classes, what about the rest of you? Why the silence? Why the abject, pathetic, skulking public wordlessness on an issue that -- to judge from the way so many people come up to me in supermarkets -- is foremost in your minds?

Clearly, we're not going to get a lead from RTE, that miserable mongrel born of a one-night stand between a pious, politically-correct vegan, and a louche, populist tabloid. That wretched half-breed was on full display during my last -- and oh believe me, my very last -- appearance on Kenny's Late Late Show recently.

A researcher from the programme had first contacted me weeks ago, asking me if I'd appear on it to discuss immigration. I was very reluctant, and with good reason. The previous occasion that I'd appeared on Kenny's Late Late Show was seven years ago, to promote a recently-published selection of my Irish Times' columns. But when Kenny introduced me, he made no mention of my book, instead yodeling in that cretinous, patronising way he has: "Now folks, what would you say to a man who said this?" ... . before quoting, out of context, a sentence from a column about Travellers. And naturally, there in the audience was a pre-primed Traveller, who promptly denounced me for my racism.

Kenny followed this with another quote, again out of context, and lo and behold, another person in the audience was ready to denounce me for my racism/sexism/whateverism. And another. and another. It was a bloodbath, and my appearance on the show ended without Kenny ever making a proper mention of the book. This, no doubt, is called "balance" in Montrose.

So why would I hazard another appearance on Kenny's vile show? Well, frankly, the national interest. Immigration is the greatest threat to the social cohesion of this country, and though I personally had absolutely nothing whatever to gain by re-appearing on the show, if I did -- simply out of patriotic duty -- perhaps I might trigger a public debate on immigration, as no mere newspaper column could.

So I sought, and got a promise from the producer Larry Masterson that if I appeared on The Late Late Show there would be no audience participation, no heat, and no personal rancour. The subject would not be me, or whatever I've said in the past, but simply immigration, perhaps the biggest challenge in the history of the Irish State.

Once the item was under way, I half-twigged what Kenny was up to when he began to question me on observations about immigration I made four years ago.

But I steered the conversation back to the central issue: the need to talk openly about it today. And then, as Kenny suddenly swung towards the audience, I realised I had been Judassed yet again. He was throwing the topic open.

He took a question from a nasty young man who revealed his agenda by addressing me as "Myers". I was able to brush off his arrant and aggressive gibberish. The next audience-member, a whinging little Australian, then accused me of playing the race-card. I saw her off too. And that was that. If Masterson and Kenny had wanted to start another lynch-mob in the audience with this shameless violation of a gentleman's agreement, they had failed. At least, the subject of immigration was now on the public agenda. Next, the nationwide debate could get under way.

Only it didn't. True, Prime Time rang the following Tuesday, asking me to contribute to a forthcoming programme on immigration. I asked about the format. There would, I was told, be various representatives from immigrant groups, plus me, and the Minister, Conor Lenihan.

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And that, pretty much, is how immigration is always dealt with in Ireland: a cringing liberal deference to immigrant-sensibilities, and a sublime indifference to the feelings of the natives (a category, incidentally, to which I do not have the honour of belonging). The very notion that the majority community -- the Irish people -- should be allowed a larger voice on this subject is anathema to dogmatic liberals. Instead, immigration is usually turned into a blustering morality-competition, in which journalists loudly vie to show off how anti-racist they really are.

Anyway, I refused to appear on such a ridiculously unbalanced programme, and it went ahead without me, though perhaps my criticisms of its intended format were taken aboard. It finally consisted of one assertive immigrant, (the editor of Metro magazine), the minister, and a timid academic. Naturally, nothing whatever was gained or learned.

And I then waited for other responses from Late Late viewers, and the phone-calls from our many radio stations, to confirm that debate was now under way. Instead, almost total silence. Why? Perhaps the Irish people are simply too cowardly to survive as a people: they would, apparently, prefer to go to their demographic doom, rather than risk being called rude names.

So be it. I have done my best, and can do no more.

The bridge stands unmanned as Lars Porsena's legions approach, and this time there is no Horatio. Ireland, as Ireland, is about to vanish, just as Leicester, Bradford, Luton, Rotterdam, et cetera, have already done.

Fare thee well Enniskillen, and Erin's Green Isle.

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