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Saturday, March 22, 2008

They're right to riot in Finglas

I think so, on balance.

Are they making a shite of their own neighbourhood? Yes.

Is the violence largely conducted by kids buzzing on cheap alcohol? Of course.

Is street violence going to solve the problems facing their community? No chance.

So why do I think they're right to riot in Finglas? Because I don't see what other option they have.

I remember rioting as a kid. That was in Belfast, during the Troubles. We went out to throw rocks and molotovs at the RUC.

There were political justifications, of course. The hunger strikes. The oppression. The fact that we were second class citizens in our own land.

But primarily, we rioted because we had no amenities, and nothing else to do, and were fed up of a system that rubbed our nose in the shit all the time, a system that treated us like animals. If we were going to be accused of being animals, we felt, we could show them what animals could do.

Revisionists, or at least Republicans, would have you believe that our rioting was civil unrest, an uprising, a liberation movement. Perhaps it was all of those things.

But what the rioting in Belfast decades ago, and the rioting in Lhasa last week, and the riots in Finglas in recent days have in common is that the people who live there are objecting to a system that grinds them into the dirt the only way they can, the futile method of tilting at authority figures.

Finglas is a terribly deprived area. It is ridden with gangsterism and drug abuse. Anti-social behaviour thrives because the Gardai give it a wide berth. Schools are poorly funded and bulging at the seams with kids. Even those kids who want to better themselves have the odds heavily stacked against them.

Even if they obtain the necessary schooling to improve their lot, they will then suffer the postcode bigotry of employers who automatically consign job applications from D11 to the bin.

Less than 4% of students at Trinity College come from working class backgrounds these days. The kids of Finglas know that the Celtic Tiger dream marketed at them in the media does not apply to them and never will. Social mobility has never been so static in Ireland. The rich get richer and the poor get their bus routes cancelled.

Local politicians don't bother with places like Finglas because there are no votes there. And in a circular movement, the people of places like Finglas don't bother to vote because no one in authority ever listens to their concerns.

So where can the people of Finglas take their concerns? Eventually, anger bubbles over, the sole amenity of cheap alcohol and drugs kicks in, and the concerns get expressed on the streets.

I did the same myself and feel no shame over it. Two decades on, the oppression I suffered as a youth has been alleviated and addressed. The voice of my community is now heard in government.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that Bill Clinton and Tony Blair won't be taking a special personal interest in Finglas. I suspect the rioters of Finglas will be painted as boozed-up animals rather than people crying out for liberation from deprivation. I hope they get the same result I did, but I fear they will not.

And if they continue to be ignored, then eventually there will be more riots, and riots with increasing severity and regularity. Eventually people will die, local people and Gardai.

They aren't animals. They don't love squalor. They want better lives that are being denied them. The government should listen. Because they're right to riot in Finglas until they do.


Anonymous said...

Good post, persuasively argued. I can't see Clinton or Blair paying much attention to Finglas either.

Anonymous said...

Bollocks. You obviously know very little of Finglas.

The youths rioting last week were no more than a 10 minute walk from a large variety of well run and funded amenities and services - Erins Isle GAA club, there's 4 Scouts organisations in the area, several youth clubs, a large selection of football pitches, indoor basketball courts, a large public library, a modern indoor swimming pool, etc.

The schools are overcrowded, but they are like that all over the country.

There's a well run School Completion Programme to help those interested finish their 2nd level education, that even provides creche facilties for single parents interested. And there's a variety of other public funded programmes to help those motivated enough to help themselves.

I grew up in Finglas and the facilities are there for anyone who cares to use them.

Problem is, most of these rioting youths don't care, they don't want to know.

JC Skinner said...

Yes, yes, Anon. They're just animals who don't want civilising.
Read me a new script please.
I frankly don't believe you were ever in Finglas. The picture you paint doesn't tally with the reality whatsoever.
Here's some questions for you:
What proportion of Finglas natives are in prison compared to the rest of the population?
What is the life expectancy in Finglas compared to the average?
What is the average school leaving age?
How many people from Finglas have third level educations?
The answers to those questions should reveal to you what the people in Finglas already know: they're an underclass of Morlocks, dispensible by the political class.
Authority cares nothing for them, so why should they respect an authority whose sole purpose is to slap them back down into their place?

Anonymous said...

"Yes, yes, Anon. They're just animals who don't want civilising.
Read me a new script please."

I never said they were animals. I said they weren't interested in availing
of the facilities and amenities provided.

There's a disconnect between these youths and the system.

It's a big problem. It's not as simple as you painted it in your post.

"I frankly don't believe you were ever in Finglas. "

Believe what you will.
Lived just off Wellmount Rd, went to school in St Declans in Cabra.

"The picture you paint doesn't tally with the reality whatsoever."

Are you denying the existence of the organisations, programmes,
and facilities I listed?

I can give you a list of phone numbers to call to verify if you insist on being so ignorant.

The system isn't set up to oppress these people as you imply, if you think it is I'll leave you alone with your conspiracy theories.

JC Skinner said...

Or you could try answering any of my questions, anon.

OFTR said...

This wasn't a political activism or social demonstration on behalf of the people of Finglas.

This was a bunch of kids, out of their heads on drink, stealing cars, bottling and terrorising other decent residents of Finglas for the simple reason that thay were brought up not to give a fuck about anyone else.

'less than 4% of Trinity students come from a working class background these days'

Was it ever any different?!

However you fail to mention the amount of 'working class' students who graduate every year from other third level colleges / ITs.

If you were justifying an opressed minority rioting for social and economic equality, then i'd agree with you.

When you're trying to compare a drunken teenage riot on Paddy's Day with riots in Belfast during the troubles, then you're way off I;m afraid.

JC Skinner said...

What I'm trying to point out is that it was no different in Belfast than in Finglas in terms of the motivation of those on the ground rioting.
You can put a political gloss on top of the riots I was involved in if you wish, and as I said, that might even be valid. But it wasn't uppermost in the minds of us out throwing the bricks at cops.
Equally in Finglas, the fact that the kids rioting may not have been wearing PLO scarves or other paraphernalia of politicised protest doesn't to my mind in any way invalidate the fact that this happened because they are the victims of social injustice on a systemic level.
And to answer your question, yes, when I attended Trinity, the proportion of working class kids was much higher. It fell dramatically after fees were reintroduced.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I moved out of Dublin 10 years ago. FÁS very nicely provided me and 120 others from the trouble areas of Ireland with language classes, a host family and schooling abroad. I am now leading a successful life in the beautiful city of Munich with a good job, nice wife and child in one of the most modern and well funded cities in Europe. Yes there were "twats" from Clondalkin and Finglas on the course too... they fell at the first hurdle, lasted 3 weeks "in-country" (outside Ireland) then were shipped home for fighting with British soldiers in an "Irish Pub" I'm still here! Have managed to educate myself with nightcourses and have opened my eyes a bit, gotten away from the parochial, gombeen thinking of blinkered Dublin, where not even the educated politicians and property developers can see what kind of a time-bomb they have built.... It only takes a couple of years living outside Ireland to let you see how Fianna Fail has screwed the country. You need schools, hospitals and amenities in communities before you build 100K+ houses and re-zone postal codes such as Lucan south. I hope and pray to God the only reason I ever have to return to Ireland is to bury my parents and visit the poor unfortunate mates who have to sit in traffic 4 hours a day to get to and from work. God help you all.

roosta said...

Is getting smashed then pulling people from their cars and joy-riding them considered rioting? Ee-gads!

Anonymous said...

Here i live in Finglas and i wouldnt move if i was paid. And i dont no wat yez are all shittin about saying finglas is a dump and people from it are idiots.. No one out der is any fucking better dan people from finglas. Shit happens everywere not just finglas.They just dont write it in d newspapers or anythingg and if something happened in blackrock or sumting u wudn see it in d newspapers or on d tele cuz they'd probely tell you d person dat was involved was from sumwere else. Yez all jst talk aload of Bollox. Finglas isnt half as bad as people say. Im only a teenager and i live jst dwn d road from were dat happened and im going off to third level education.Not everyone is like dat in finglas Ye i drink on d streets anal but i dont go around smashin tings up anal. But dats jst wat day want to do. Im not sayin its rite or anything But its not just finglas it happens in.Its everywere so i dont no why the jst pin point Finglas

Anonymous said...

Here i live in finglas and its not THat bad as people make it out to be i would rear my kids there ye sometimes bad things happen but da way people make it out to be as if it dosent happen anywere else and the riot in finglas was a great day the people that got taken out of there cars done that at there own risk they were told before they went down not to and realy the amout of people dat was there they should have knowing not to go down and finglas isnt a dump either sure look at bally mun dats a kip them appartments will look like the old blocks in a few years time and yea ther is the dens and youth reaches now but for all the older group of teenagers that are hitting their 20s now didnt have all dat