‘Look A Little Closer’



Refugees trying to enter the back of a truck near the entrance of the Channel Tunnel in Calais, France this summer

Pól Ó Muirí, in the Irish Times, writes:

“While learning Irish in Donegal in the 1980s, I noticed that there were very few men of my age around. “They are away working on the Channel Tunnel,” I was told… And the Channel Tunnel is in the news again. There they are, migrants on the other side, trying to get through.

…The whole thing is a bit frightening isn’t it, all those people throwing themselves at the fences at the mouth of the tunnel that the Donegal ones helped build?

“…When the camera panned back to show men standing and watching, with all the dignity they could muster, that I suddenly realised I was seeing my grandfather in Scotland, my father in England. There they are. Trying to earn a living. Trying to survive. Do you see your family in their faces too? Look a little closer. Don’t be afraid. Those people at the fence are from Donegal and Mayo, Leitrim and Galway. They are from little villages in the glens, townlands on the edge of the Atlantic, small holdings in the mountains. Don’t be afraid. Who knows?”

An Irishman’s Diary: Migrants at the Channel Tunnel – built by Irish migrants (Pól Ó MuiríIrish Times)

Pic: NBC News

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38 thoughts on “‘Look A Little Closer’

  1. Mr. T.

    Sentimental maudlin Irish crap from a comfortable warm study.

    I do feel sorry for these lads trying to escape war and dismal prospects, as anyone would but this is simply not the same thing by any stretch. There is little comparison to make.

      1. antigonite

        Moving abroad with a visa to work is completely different to claiming to be a refugee. This piece is emotional masterbation.

    1. Pip

      You nailed it, Mr. T. It’s from the ‘ah sure we’re all irish really, especially if we’re banjaxed’ school of Blarney.

      1. Sean

        “Those people at the fence are from Donegal and Mayo, Leitrim and Galway.”

        Trying to be arty & deep.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Absolutely. Nauseous stuff. A weak comparison thinly veiling nostalgic oul guff about Irish workers who travelled over the water to work their trades.

      These migrants at Calais are breaking the law remember, and they’re jeopardising the safety of ordinary truck-drivers.

  2. phil

    Having worked abroad myself I find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with him, we allow far too much noise from racists and xenophobes who for reasons only known to themselves , will never open their minds to a reasonable view on this situation.

    We all share this planet , or at lease we should share it more fairly …

    1. Sean

      “We all share this planet , or at lease we should share it more fairly …”

      Cool – give me your address and I’ll send a few of them over to pitch a tent in your front garden.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Actually, the UK should take more people in. Ireland should take more people in. Germany, Greece and Italy are bearing the brunt of this. So “we” should, yes,

            That doesn’t mean people need to house them as the state should do this as a member of the EU. Any argument that says “you can’t say X unless you have 5 migrants in your attic” is both simplistic and infantile.

  3. Charley

    One big difference, most of the guys trying to hide in the lorry wouldn’t work down a tunnel and a lot of the have abandoned their families in there homeland. There is no comparison whatsoever.

    1. Medium Sized C

      Most…. so more tha 50%.

      You’re gonna need proof or I can just go ahead and call you a racist.

  4. Rob_G

    Channel Tunnel migrants are a tricky one – while on the one hand Britain needs to accept more refugees from the current conflicts in the middle east, it is difficult to classify the migrants at Calais as anything other than economic migrants – they have already arrived in a safe country, but one not to their liking.

  5. mauriac

    in the picture caption the people breaking into the lorry are described as refugees. how can this be right when they are in France?is there a war or famine in France that we should be told about?
    the real question is what is the draw of the UK ? easier to exist in the black maybe?

        1. classter

          Did you read the article?

          The suggestion is that the UK is soft only in terms of turning a blind eye to black market work.

        2. Bobby

          Most refugees are tryng to get to Germany, the few who head towards the UK are going there because they already have family, friends or a contact there.

    1. Bobby

      Nah, I think fleeing war, horror and terror in Iraq ans Syria is the reason they’ve legged it, and as I said below, they fewer who go to the UK already have some form of contact. Most refugees are going to Pakistan, Lebanon and Jordan, then Germany.

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