Have you ever browsed the aisles of an Irish supermarket and seen a ‘Love Irish Food’ logo? The logo is a guarantee the product was produced in Ireland, that it belongs to an Irish brand, and that the brand uses Irish-grown ingredients where possible. However, missing from this guarantee is whether the labour used to make the product was also Irish. 

For example, one might look at a pack of Keelings strawberries, with the ‘Love Irish Food’ logo on it, and presume that Irish labour was used to pick and produce it. However, the Keelings fiasco in April involving Bulgarian fruit-pickers tells us a different story.

The fiasco occurred during the height of the first lockdown when Irish people were confined to a 2km radius of their home, and were advised to only perform essential activities. At the same time Keelings were busy flying in at least one chartered plane from Bulgaria filled with 189 fruit pickers to do their seasonal work. Work that the Irish themselves are supposedly too lazy to do (but in reality are not paid well enough to do).

From what has been reported, there was no social distancing observed on the plane and no health screening checks at Dublin airport. The fruit-pickers simply had to claim that they were essential EU workers and to promise to observe self-isolation in order to waltz past Irish immigration control.

It seems that not even a pandemic could halt our céad míle fáilte to cheap labour importation. Fine Gael were all too happy to turn a blind eye to these comings and goings; this was after all, the bread and butter of their regime. Only when the CMO Dr Tony Holohan started to ring the alarm bells, were the FG neolibs forced to feign indignation. In a Department of Health briefing, Dr Holohan said the actions of companies in this manner were “not consistent” with public health advice issued around travel.

In response the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stated:  

“I share the discomfort expressed by the Chief Medical Officer about the report of a large number of people coming to Ireland earlier this week to work in the horticulture sector.”

“We need to keep our airports and ports open so essential goods and essential workers can get in and out of the country and Irish citizens and residents can return home.”

“However, we need to keep travel to a minimum and ensure that passengers are interviewed on arrival and that quarantine is observed.”

In reaction to these comments the Irish Times then ran a puff piece for Keelings, stating that the Government had unfairly dragged the company through the mud of public opinion. That the Government had caved to the furore of a “motley crew of knee-jerk anti-corporatists and anti-foreigner sock puppets”. 

This is how the ‘newspaper of record’ categorises the type of public concern it does not like. It speaks for corporations, not against them. They are the corporate lapdogs who will harangue those who speak against globalist business practice. 

What activists on the Right need to do is to further provoke the Irish Times and associated media into dropping their mask and revealing themselves as fundamentally pro-capital and anti-native institutions.

What better way to do this then to start a ‘Love Irish Workers’ promotional campaign? Such a campaign would allow companies and employers to display a logo on their products or premises to indicate that they proudly use Irish labour. Irish consumers would then have the informed choice over whether to support their own workers or not to. If you love Irish food, why not also love Irish labour?

Now of course those on the Left will sneer and demand to know what objectively defines a worker as Irish, or even claim that there is no such thing as ‘Irish workers’. However if they have a problem with this new campaign then they should first take it up with the old one. How can there be such a thing as an ‘Irish strawberry’, if they were originally brought over from America?

Although to give a straightforward answer, Irish workers could simply be defined as Irish citizens working in Ireland. This generous definition could, for starters, help curtail the business of beef barons who rampantly abuse their workers. Meat products which have been produced through honest Irish labour could then be promoted as being from ‘farm-to-factory-to-fork’, so to speak. Over the past few months there has been a spotlight shone on the disastrous working conditions present in Ireland’s meat factories, this being due to the fact that they are hotbeds for Covid-19 transmission.

In August, Mr. Greg Ennis, a trade union official at SIPTU, brought these concerns to a Special Committee hearing on Covid-19 in Leinster House. He described the factors which increased the rate of transmission as: 

“close proximity working, bottlenecks in canteens and toilets, noise pollution causing workers to shout to communicate, which creates droplets circulated through the industrial air cooling systems; and relatively low wages causing workers to carpool, share accommodation and in many cases share rooms within that accommodation.”

This is the reality behind the cheap meat we see being sold in our supermarkets, often with an image of a happy Irish farmer, Tricolour, and Bord Bia logo slapped onto it. Furthermore, the room sharing is all too reminiscent of RTÉ’s ‘Nightmare to Let‘ documentary, which lifted the lid on the modern-day tenement squats of non-nationals in Ireland.

Ennis continued to state:

“A special case […] is that of a great number of workers, all Romanian, who were for years cheated out of their social security rights in Ireland by the employment agency which was hiring them to work in several meat plants in Munster. This agency employed all these Romanian nationals as self-employed contractors declared in Poland, so all the workers’ contributions were sent to the Polish and not the Irish Revenue.”

The fact that workers who are living and working in Ireland do not even pay Irish taxes here should be astounding in and of itself. There is a clear abuse of labour law here, although it is made ‘legal’ through EU loopholes and the notion of being a ‘self-employed contractor’. These so-called employment agencies have a lot to answer for, and should be recognised as one of the main engines driving migration into Ireland. They give lie to the liberal delusion that foreign workers contribute to the Irish economy; that is unless by ‘economy’ one means the wealth of slumlords and beef barons.

“For many years, all of these workers have had no annual leave, no right to illness benefit, no rights to child allowance, had no PPS numbers, and were de facto invisible in Ireland.”

If these Irish meat factories simply forced to employ Irish workers then we would have none of these problems. Although who in Irish officialdom is willing to declare this elephant-in-the-room solution? No-one.

Such is the social power of liberalism. Liberals love to wear their wooly Aran jumpers, Avoca hand-weaved scarves, and eat the finest of Irish produce from Fallon & Byrne; but when it comes to supporting the cause of native Irish workers they are nowhere to be seen.

Their love of Irish produce stops conveniently short of love for Irish producers; try pointing out this fallacy to them and see how their cognitive dissonance descends. Any nativist sentiment within them has long been repressed as wrong-think by years of mainstream telecommunication.

If an opinion like ‘Love Irish Labour’ is deemed racist, no matter how compelling or logical it is, the feared loss of social prestige associated with saying it is enough to silence liberals. After all, ideological conformity is the key to improving their class position and progressing up the career ladder. Who would want to financially or socially associate with someone who has expressed wrong-think or committed hate-speech? The liberal thirst for clout makes them simp for capitalism.

And it is capitalism which must be recognised as wrecking Irish life at the current moment. Tenement squats and meat factories packed with non-Irish are a means to a very profitable end. Cheap labour importation also has knock-on effects in causing rents to soar and wages to stagnate, not to mention subsequent ghettoisation and ethnic balkanisation. 

Such financial factors are also impediments to family formation, which should be of primary concern given Ireland’s plummeting fertility rate. One wonders if the current pace of migration and social change will irreversibly change Ireland, and turn into something wholly alienated from itself and from its past. 

Identifying with and promoting the cause of Irish labour is a good start in stemming this tide of alienation, simultaneously putting the brakes on the profit demand of global capital. The only factor which prevents us from seeing the reality of capital, is the effort of deluded liberals who prop up its mask.

Posted by Eric McMahon

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