“…you fall to the floor.”

Martine BrennanMartine Brennan‏@martinewrites

‘Between two stools’ http://ht.ly/eOIvJ #LondonIrish #IrishDiaspora 8:26 PM 28 Oct 12

The social workers were charged with helping our elderly clients to fill out a lengthy form. One of the questions read “How do you identify yourself? Irish, Second Generation Irish, Third Generation Irish, Afro-Carribean, (that’s what it said!) White, Black, English, Other.” The Borough was concerned that people might mis-identify themselves. They were right. We had Irish born people identifying themselves as English, Black people identifying themselves as White and vice versa. What people didn’t know was that we, the social workers, were supposed to fill out a separate form and ‘correct’ any inaccuracies we found.

I made the following comment at Martine’s Irish award winning blog re: the Irish diaspora in Britain, which I would have extensive knowledge having spent fifteen years living there.

As I was reading about the lengthy forms the residents had to fill in pertaining to their ethnicity, I was reminded of an American house evaluation site I was browsing through recently. It stated, not only the value of the houses, and the grounds, but also laid out the ethnicity percentage of the residents in the area. I was gobsmacked. One would never see that kind of thing in Ireland. Understandably, we are a very small country. Dil presenter at Newstalk says there are over 190 languages spoken in Ireland today.

I could just visualise there being holy war when the social services ‘had to survey every Centre to discover the ethnic origin of those in receipt of services.’ And for residents to be confronted with “How do you identify yourself? Irish, Second Generation Irish, Third Generation Irish, Afro-Carribean, (that’s what it said!) White, Black, English, Other.” So utterly condescending for the elderly folk to have to go through such an ordeal. The audacity of them to use social workers to do a distressing job of a nature that didn’t come under their employment remit. It makes me glad to think that I came back to Ireland at an earlier age, as I too, like ‘the older lady,’ could be falling ‘between two stools.’ This post brings me back to the day when my own mother and husband had to make the choice of retiring in Ireland, as they really did not want to be buried in Great Britain, despite having lived there for nigh on thirty years. Love the choice of video.

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