Stirring Xenophobia

Polish ambassador challenges newspaper on article ‘inaccuracy’

Wednesday, February 01, 2012 – 03:01 PM

The Polish Ambassador to Ireland has written to the Irish Independent
concerning a “potentially inflammatory” article published by the
newspaper today.

The article, quoting from a report in Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza
newspaper, claimed that a Polish woman – using the pseudonym ‘Magda’ –
has been speaking about living the good life in an unidentified
Donegal town, while claiming unemployment and other benefits.

However, Poland’s Ambassador to Ireland Marcin Nawrot in a letter to
the Independent said the article had been translated incorrectly from
the original piece published last Sunday, and contains inaccuracies.

The front-page report in today’s Independent bears the headline
“Welcome to good life on welfare – how Polish waitress embraced La
Dole-ce Vita”.

However in his letter, Ambassador Nawrot said the authors of the
Independent report use the facts presented in the Polish article in “a
very selective and subjective manner”.

“The subject ‘Magda’ states in the Polish article: ‘I have a big
problem with being unemployed, I don’t want to live at the State’s
expense and for that reason I use this assistance to allow me start up
my own business’,” Ambassador Nawrot wrote.

“I believe that this is the sentence that best summarizes the context
of the original article and it is decidedly unfortunate that it has
been omitted in your article.”

He said the report – which describes the life of the 36-year-old woman
on Irish welfare benefits – is potentially inflammatory and risks
causing an anti-immigrant atmosphere.

“The decision to remain in Ireland that so many Polish people made in
the recent years is a decision to make a valuable contribution to the
Irish state by living and working here, integrating with the Irish
society and being a part of it all in good times and bad,” he wrote.

“It’s impossible to imagine that this decision, sometimes a very
painful one, is made on the basis of the level of unemployment benefit
or other kinds of support granted to the jobless by the Irish State.”

The Independent article has been the subject of heated debate online
and in national media today, as the subject is claimed to have
described her life on Irish welfare as a “Hawaiian massage”.

However Ambassador Nawrot denied that this statement had been made in
the original Polish article.

“What she actually says is that she has completed a FÁS course in
Hawaiian Massage and that she’s planning to open a massage business
next year,” the Ambassador wrote.

Meanwhile Donegal Labour Senator Jimmy Harte – who was contacted by
the Independent about the article – said he wasn’t given the full
story and he’d happily take his comments back if the article is wrong.

Senator Harte had told the Independent that ‘Magda’ was “doing an
enormous disservice to the Polish community in Co Donegal”, and
offered to pay for her flight home.