On a nice Irish summer day, photographer Anthony Cronin came across an interesting event in Dublin City Centre. A group of Roma Gypsy women some with children, bustling down the footpath in a hurried fashion passed me by. Then my ears caught the sound of Irish teenage girls behind me, four of them shouting the likes of “dirty bastards” “filthy fuckers” “fuck of back to where you came from” at the Gypsies and chasing them.
“The attitude of the Irish people to the Roma Gypsies is varied from tolerance to annoyance to hatred, so at times we often incidents like this.”
I turned to observe the scene and seconds later over my head started to fly rotten fruit the Irish had picked off the ground. The Roma woman with the baby in the picture bravely stopped to challenge them after she was hit by some fruit. Shocked at this racism, but not expecting what was to happen, I reached for the camera that was hanging around my neck and focused on the brave Roma lady, thinking I might get an interesting shot of her emotion.
It was then one Irish girl, who had found a folding chair under a market stall and started to attack the woman with the baby. The Irish teenager started advancing towards the Roma woman swinging the chair to make her step back out of range as she screamed more racist abuse. The Roma woman tried to reason with her shouting “Stop Stop” in broken English. Then the girl made braver by her friends encouragement rushed forward to attack. The chair was now over her head, swinging down with all her strength at the Roma woman, who turned her body to protect her child and deflected the impact with her outstretched hand. Seconds later the other Roma women returned with their men this time. The men ran at the Irish teenagers who turned and fled. Luckily the woman and baby seemed to be unhurt as her group surrounded her and calmed the screaming baby. Sadly few even stopped to look, most walked on by.
The Roma Gypsies have come to Ireland in large numbers and spend each day begging. No coffee outside a street cafe is complete without a Roma Gypsy approaching you seeking money. Every main street has someone begging often with their children to add emotional weight to their pleas. Then there is the growing numbers in the North inner City of Irish teenagers who leave school early and have no motivation to work. They live near the city centre in 1960’s concrete jungles more famous for their drugs and violence. Without any place to go, they roam the streets in gangs. Their anger is often against the new Irish residents from other countries. The attitude of the Irish people to the Roma Gypsies is varied from tolerance to annoyance to hatred, so at times we often incidents like this.
Ironically, it was on this same street that the last surviving 1916 rebels surrendered after fighting the English in a house to house combat down Moore Street, many dying and shedding their blood on the very cobblestones that can be seen in these pictures. The failed 1916 Rebels in their famous proclamation of independence promised “The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally” How easily some Irish forget those high aims.
Moore Street is a side street just off the capital city’s main street. One street away from the new money of the Celtic Tiger. It is a microcosm of the Modern Ireland with it’s run down shops on one side and the other side demolished to make way for the modern sparkling buildings of the Celtic Tiger, symbolising the contradiction that is Ireland today.
The street is one of the last surviving street markets in Dublin. The mini melting pot is a busy route for all nationalities seeking cheap food. The old shops are full of colour with cheap Chinese restaurants, spice shops, ethnic hairdressers, all staffed by people from the four corners of the globe trying to make a living by selling anything they can. On Sunday’s there is no market and the street is always littered with empty packing cases and with rotting produce. This is my home ground, this is where I can be found wandering the streets looking for interesting people and street shots. Welcome to Ireland…