The Swedish experience and approach to mass immigration


I’d say you’d get some comments like that in most countries, though.

Have you been following Ann Coulter’s comments recently?


hmmm… it could be just that they don’t like you? We all have our flaws, but sometimes you can be quite rude?

That’s appalling. Anyone who reaches such a good age deserves more respect than that.


I was actually quite surprised by how defensive people were during the crisis over any perceived criticism of how it had happened or how the fallout was handled. There was definitely a bit of sensitivity of the fact that I lived abroad and people took critiques of the shot callers as a criticism of ‘Ireland’. Some of it was sectoral, lawyers for example are very defensive of the bar in general, but overall there is still a bit of chip on the shoulder stuff and a deep sensitivity to shame in the Irish character, that gets agitated when there is criticism that is perceived as coming from outside. It’s not that unique for small countries, places like England and the US and even France take some pride in being criticised by others as they read it as envy. Anyhow, for the ruling gangs it worked out well, everyone getting behind the team in green.


I didn’t get that from the very limited sample I encountered at home, more a combination initially of apathy and ‘don’t get me started’, which eventually would get started and turn into a general denunciation of the powers that be.


Seven years on the 'pin and somehow you never noticed all the stories in other threads from returnees about the subject. I first noticed the phenomenon many decades ago and never really gave a fuck then. I certainly dont give a flying fuck now. In my experience about a quarter of the population although riled will be big enough to allow you a different opinion. Just. The other three quarters are just thin skinned feckers who will brook no difference of opinion apart from the sanctioned generic moaning about the place. I’ve yet to meet a returnee to Ireland who did not have this bruising experience of tribal groupthink. And is usually the main reason given by re-emigrants for why they left again.

And your blase blowing off for the casual bigotry that is endemic in the South speaks volumes. Still the only country in my personal experience where open expressions of antisemitism, sectarian bigotry and racially offensives remarks if not exactly the norm is prevalent to a degree I have never found elsewhere. Oh, I forgot. The Most Oppressed People Ever cannot be racist, sectarian bigots. Only victims.

And some people think this is the kind of country that can assimilate successfully tens of thousands of Arab migrants and their dependents.

I dont think so.


So who’s the thin-skinned fecker then?


The problem with this is that you’re an outright racial and cultural supremacist yourself. Your views are bigoted, founded in a belief that the native catholics are backward. You’ve defended South Africa pre-Apartheid to give one small example. Your views on Ireland’s right to exist independently are like something AV Dicey was spouting at the turn of the century. It’s just time capsule stuff.

If you spout this insulting nonsense in person then you will get insulted back. I’d be more surprised if you weren’t getting insulted all the time.


Just a second. You set yourself apart and imagine that you have been here ‘a few hundred years’? You haven’t. You were probably born here n the 1950’s and are now in your late fifties, early sixties? You mightn’t like it, but you’re as Irish as me. You are an essential part of the Irish Nation. You might prefer to culturally identify yourself as British, and I certainly respect your choice, but imagining yourself as having a British ‘national’ identity is daft. You are Irish and in Britain they’d laugh at you. There really isn’t any point blaming the natives when you have chosen to not only set yourself apart from them, but to actually set yourself against them.

So when are you going to integrate with the rest of us? My arms are open wide to give you a big hug.

And with regards anti-semitism, racism, bigotry etc? No. If you want to see racism and bigotry you need to have a look at the behaviour and attitudes of your close cousins up north. Anyone can see that the South is very inclusive and welcoming in comparison. And I have never heard anti semitism expressed. I wouldn’t tolerate it.



Wrong on who I am. As well as age. I was a precocious little brat. Plus years of clean living in California has left me looking disturbingly much younger than my years…

As I mentioned before I have a bunch of nationalities, and in my immediate family we have a whole bunch more. We’re a very cosmopolitan lot. That is why I get to do comparative nationalism and national identity. When I meet compatriots of my other nationalities after the initial, well you’re not quite a run of the mill type, they have no problem with accepting me as one of their compatriots. With the Irish its a whole different story. As I said pure tribalism. In fact I’ve never run into any of the snippy exclusionist behavior thats standard behavior with the Irish with my other compatriots. Quite the opposite. So whenever I’m in Ireland I pretend to be a tourist. It makes for a quiet life. And a much more pleasant experience. Bord Failte is correct. Ireland is a great place to visit as a tourist. I’d highly recommended it. Visit as a local, less so.

In fact none of the places I call home are in Ireland. I left in the mid '80’s with absolutely no regrets. Mainly I suppose because I was not emigrating, but returning to one of the places I call home. And the fact that I have spent extended periods of time in Ireland over the years since leaving just reinforces the fact that Ireland is just one of the four countries I know really really well.

So I suppose the reason why my opinions on the subject are so trenchant is because I have completely certainty of where I’m from. I can stand on a particular hill in a certain part of Ireland and look over a landscape where, if the recent genetic surveys are to believed, my forebears first farmed in the Late Bronze Age over four thousand years ago. So I was not going to be lectured on what it was to be “real” Irish by some ersatz cultural nationalists whose culture was little more than peasant / petite bourgeois prejudices wrapped in third hand 19’th Century German Romantic völkisch’ist cliches. To coin a phrase…

The Ireland I grew up in was probably very different from yours. Most of my good friends were “foreigners” like me. A lot were not as thick skinned as I was. And were made feel like outsiders at every turn even if their parents happened to be Irish. Especially if they were the “wrong” religion. Most had little problem leaving the country when they grew up. Usually with few regrets other than family ones. The huge influx of Eastern Europeans has improved the country enormously. But scratch the surface, and the old prejudices are still there with all their old virulence.

I dont need to integrate with Ireland. I am perfectly comfortable with my other nationalities and my compatriots have always seemed to be perfectly comfortable with me. They have provided me with places I can feel totally at home in, a great life, with positive cultural role models, and with positive civic and cultural aspersions and traits. And compatriots who accept me as who I am. The Ireland I saw growing up, and see today, provide little or none of this. I cannot think of a single positive element of the received Irish national identity. Its basically a cultural identity of failure, inferiority and self defeat. As individuals a very likable people. As a nation, post '23, basically a culture that sets itself up for eternal failure. Which it does with depressing regularity.

Pity. But thats the way it is. And life’s too short, and provides too many great opportunities, to waste any time on such debilitating cultural baggage.

In case you are wondering there is nothing unique about Ireland’s dysfunctional national identity problem. Its pretty much the same in Mexico. With the same results. A dysfunctional country where one sixth of the native born live outside the country because its a mis-ruled shambles. They even have their own Fianna Fail. Its called PRI.

But back to the original point. Of all the countries in Western Europe Ireland is probably has the least favorable national culture for assimilating Middle Eastern immigrants. For the reasons discussed. Just ask the Eastern Europeans on the thread just how welcoming the place is. And they are exactly the same as us. So just think what it is like for people who are very different.


Interesting post, jmc, and it would be interesting to hear from some of our Eastern European originated contributors on that.

And when you say Ireland is the rabidly anti-semitic, I’d be interested to know why we then rank among the lowest for anti-semitism in all of Western Europe, behind France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Belgium? Is this just something else we’re not very good at?


I never realised the hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans that came here in a matter of years were encountering a lot of issues with the natives.
Very surprised to hear that…and very sceptical to be honest about the validity of such a statementscept


I’m guessing you work in IT, as I did. I worked with Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Romanians, Czechs, and Serbs. Integration and cameraderie were excellent, and generally the national differences were barely noticed. Lazy and bad people are often promoted anywhere, so nothing new there. Some of the non-nationals did very well where I worked, with a couple so highly regarded that they were begged to telecommute from their home countries when they eventually decided to move back. At weddings of colleagues who married eastern Europeans, I’ve found those countries to be very welcoming of Irish people too (especially one particular vodka-soaked night in Łódź). Just to mention also, I’d emigrate myself before living in a “welfare estate” in Ireland.


On the anti-semitism question its quite simple. There are very few Jews in Ireland. A few thousand. Despite this I heard anti-Semitic remarks unapologetically expressed on several occasions over the years. A Jewish acquaintance in college said it was just a fact of life of living in Ireland. I’ve seen little evidence that there has been any major cultural changes in the intervening decades.

In the other European countries the correlation is pretty much higher Muslim population = higher rates of anti-semtism. The casual anti-semitism of the white suburban middle class left which is now presented as anti-Zionism has been a fact of life for many many decades in Europe. Thats why Jewish emigration rates are accelerating. It seems Europe has decided to swap the people who gave them some of the best most creative minds of the last few hundred years for a people to do manual labour and whose culture wants them debilitated and destroyed.

If Ireland had a few tens of thousands of Jews and imports another few tens of thousands of Muslims then it would soon catch up in the anti-semitism league table. So no worries that Ireland cannot do bigotry and hatred with the best of them. I think all the evidence very much points in the opposite direction.


You really dont have a fucking clue just how nasty an experience being a “foreigner” is in Ireland. I’m not talking Nigerians or Chinese here. I’m talking about the simplest scenario, people whose parent(s) were Irish and happened to be born outside the country. Its not as intensely nasty an experience now as it was decades ago but Ireland is still an inbred inward looking chip on its shoulder tribal culture looking for any excuse to exclude and humiliate anyone who happens to be “other”. Me, I never really gave a fuck. But people I know, some of the nicest sweetest easy going people one could possible meet, were deeply scarred by the experience of the casual knuckle-dragging boorishness that passes for typical behavior for far too many people in Ireland. And yes, this is an “only in Ireland” situation.

Here is another thing to chew on. When I’m in Ireland I’ve run into quite a few returnees over the last decade or so. At first they are politely cagy as we talk about their experiences. Where did they return from etc.etc. Once they realize that I’m not only not a returnee but have rather straight-forward and unvarnished opinions on the place that they without exception open up. They stop being so guarded in their opinions. Guess what? I’ve yet to meet returnee who did not have the rather jaundiced views I have. They all have the same story. Great to be close to family etc but what an awful country. And in most cases, probably a mistake to return.

I heard the same story from people in their 70’s as well as people in their '30’s. And why were they so guarded at first in expressing their real opinion in Ireland? Because of the angry response from locals when they dared expressed a genuine honest opinion.

As I said, I know a whole bunch of countries, and this angry response to any sort of informed criticism is purely an Irish problem. My take is that small countries tend to be a bit sensitive to informed criticism. I think Norway is a good example. But the genuine anger one experiences to any form of informed dissent in Ireland, and not in Norway, is due I think to the fact that Ireland has been such a failure by its own founding measure. Where as Norway has been a success. The state the Norwegians wanted to create in 1905 has pretty much come to pass. The state the Irish Republics wanted to found in 1916/23 has failed by all of its founding principals. Failure breeds the corrosive resentment which sadly seems to be the norm in Ireland.

Maybe you should ask yourself why Ireland is such an easy country to leave. And such a difficult country to return to permanently. Answer that question and you are well on your way to building a successful country.


You will find the same problem in Canada, better disguised but still there. The locals, though usually very friendly, find ways to stay in charge and make it all look legal and fair. Even among Canadians there are difficulties e.g. speaking French in Calgary.

Actually, I am amazed how well Ireland has absorbed so many immigrants with so few problems. The country deserves praise for that.


Not my or my family’s experience at all. I am grateful we moved there when I was 14. There were a few problems for me regarding identity, as there are in Canada, but nothing serious. The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t have to watch out for marauding gangs of delinquents like I did in Manchester. Ireland was and is a great place to live.


In my experience, being British in Ireland is much like being British in Britain. I’m surrounded by people in whom I’m not interested and who aren’t interested in me. Sure, a lot of them appear to be pricks, but then a lot of people everywhere appear to be pricks (then, maybe I’m a bit of a prick for thinking that :smiley: ).
I think that you (like very many people) worry far too much about things that just don’t matter very much.

Ireland is functionally indistinguishable from any other rich country. As long as there’s water in the pipes, police on the streets and doctors in the hospitals (the one thing where I admit it is a bit of a mess), I’m profoundly uninterested in all this “cultural identity” stuff.
I’ve never really understood all this guff about “social participation”. To maintain a decent life, immigrants don’t really need to participate actively within a society (as I have never done, even the one in which I grew up before emigrating), but merely to acquiesce in it (as I do).

Ireland is pretty ordinary. I know that being unexceptional will undermine some people’s egos one way or another,

but that’s really not my problem. :smiley:


You’re a racist and a bigot. What’s more, you’re proud of it.
Comparisons with Norway are silly - as has been pointed out to you before by others.
Norway is fortunate in many ways, another to add to the list is not having to deal with the likes of yourself pining for the stewardship of the mother country and all the privileges it maintained. Poor you


I really do think that you are seriously, no deliberately, over exaggerating the issue.

As someone who lives in Dublin but is very much a culchie, I have seen both the urban and rural impact of Eastern European immigration into Ireland. Rurally, I see small businesses that used to employ 100% locals but since about 2004 employ 100% Polish for example. Paddy gets too much on the dole to bother his arse these days.
So young Poles, rotating every few years, now do the hard graft (as I did myself in the US and Australia once upon a time. And those same folk drink in the local with the natives at the weekend and I’ve never seen a problem.
I see more Eastern European men get off with local Irish girls than I ever see vice versa. The EE girls seem to be spoken for by the time they get here and their mixing with the natives is not encouraged.

As for anti-semitism. I have never heard of a bad word growing up of Jews. Perhaps because I’m from the West of Ireland, thats fair game as they dont live there. I love reading history etc and I can’t understand the hatred that exists towards Jews. I dont or have never heard the hate.
I cannot see why anyone, hysteria free, would accuse Ireland of being anti-semitc…occasional episodes in Irish history apart