Monday, January 5, 2009

Urban Myths

I've always been curious on how urban myths start. Well I think I have found one in gestation.

A trade union offical, Michael Kilcoyne, who is also Vice Chairperson of the Consumers Association of Ireland claimed in the Belfast Telegraph on Friday 2nd Jan that on a couple of Polish building sites have signs saying "No Irish Need Apply".

The story doesn't specify at what site in which towns these signs appear and do not carry a picture of these signs. Indeed the claims of Mr Kilcoyne are comfortably vague in that he claims that "it had recently been brought to his attention that No Irish signs" were appearing. Meaning that he has also not seen these signs and equally can't be specific on where they are.

Indeed it could have been brought to his attenton by a drunk in a pub or a complete madman.

The story then was picked up by RTE, Newstalk, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times all with no additonal detail or specificity.

There is also a thread on it on,, and various other blogs and fora. Even Wikipedia has it included in its page on anti-Irish racism.

The claim is absurd on a number of levels not least the fact that Poland's winters mean construction is on hold for three months and there would be no need to have either signs up at hibernating sites or a requirement for walk in labourers, as the full workforce will return in March.

As confidently as I can state this story is utter rubbish I can equally be as confident that I will hear about the "no Irish signs in Poland" for the next few years on any discussion on immigration.

A little bit of digging reveals that the Michael Kilcoyne of SIPTU and the Consumer Association of Ireland, is the same as the Castlebar Town Councillor. With local elections only six months away perhaps Cllr Kilcoyne regards the publicity he is getting on this claim far more important than its accuracy.

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