Oct. 24th, 2013

underthewillows: (Default)
Warning: possible swearing ahead. Also, I'll be venting steam and doing a lot of foam-flecked ranting, in which I may or may not say things about individuals and institutions that could be construed as slanderous, libellous, or both. To which I reply: (a) if you don't expect vulgar abuse from the general public as part of the job, you shouldn't be in public life and (b) bite me, you tossers.


Double warning: Ireland is a racist country. I've been more or less denying this all my life, but over the past couple of days I've been smacked in the face with it. Evidence to follow.


Most of you probably aren't aware of the latest news from my green little island. Most of you probably aren't aware of the most recent tabloid hysteria case roiling Europe, for that matter. And there's no reason you should be particularly aware; you all have your own problems and your own countries' scandals, difficulties and 'who's on the front page of the redtops/scandal sheets today?' to occupy you.


But I'm angry, and I don't have a platform to express myself (I've left some angry comments on a newspaper's Facebook page - oh, the social activisim!) so you are going to bear the brunt of it. If you want to stop reading now, I cannot blame you.

We've just had a beautiful case - no, I correct myself, two beautiful cases - of the forces of the State intervening on behalf of the welfare of children. So why the scorn, contumely, and hollow laughter on my part?


Because the Irish childcare system - and I include voluntary organisations, registered charities, and the organs of the State in this opinion, no fear or favour to anyone - is fucking shit. From my very limited exposure to it in a five-year period in local education, I was and remain as unimpressed as I can possibly be. If I had a mangy cat, I would not be confident in relying on the system to take best care of it, let alone vulnerable children.


But underthewillows, just last year we had a brand new shiny Referendum on Children's Rights! We had the Children's Rights Alliance all over it! We had it passed! (We've even had complaints about, and court cases challenging, the unfair representation and lobbying by the government to push a "Yes" vote for the amendment to the Child Care Act, they were so eager to see it passed!) Is not everything now tickety-boo with children's protection in Ireland?


*sound of hollow laughter* *possibly slanderous opinion* I didn't trust any of the feckers involved, not even the secular saints such as Fergus Finlay, chairman of Barnados, or Colm O'Gorman, founder of One in Four.


Let me step back here, and give you some necessary background which may seem tangential, but it's relevant, I promise you.


(1) Currently, there is the gorgeous spectacle of a case in Greece that pushes all the buttons about "Gypsies stealing white children", that perennial favourite of yore going back centuries, combined with modern fears of trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation, forced labour, and selling of children for fake adoptions. You can read the bones of it here.


(2) Also current, but dragging on for years since 2007, is the Madeleine McCann case. It's something along the lines of the Australian Lindy Chamberlain ("Dingoes ate my baby", as the tabloids so sensitively headlined it) case in Australia or the JonBenét Ramsay case in the U.S.A.


Both cases are catnip to the British and Irish media; they love the McCann case because it includes all the tropes: heart-string tugging disappearance of a child (is she alive? is she dead?); British/Irish family (the McCanns come from Northern Ireland so, depending on which side of the Border you come from, you will or won't include them as One Of Ours) dealing with foreigners; alleged incompetence of the foreign police (because they're foreigners, of course, not like our good old British bobbies and courts!); wringing every last drop of tears and blood out of the parents and their desperate campaigns to find their child; then the old tabloid trick of keeping the story fresh by attacking those you previously supported - in this case, going from 'grieving parents mistreated by dastardly foreigners' to 'neglectful parents leave vulnerable child alone while they party' to the guaranteed headline-grabber 'did parents kill child and cook up fake abduction?'; and of course the White Slavery sex and trafficking angle. The case has been re-opened by the British police due to alleged incompetence and errors by the Portuguese police and it's all over the papers once again.


Put these two together and you get a hack's wet dream. And that's what I'm coming to: we've got the hack's wet dream in the two Irish cases.


Gypsies kidnapping our white children! Read all about it! Live at six!


I wish I were joking. I'm not. It's literally "Gypsies kidnapping our white children" because the two children in the cases were blue-eyed, blond/blonde children and they didn't look like their dark-haired, dark-eyed, dark-skinned families. That's why the police and social services took them away from their families: someone rang up and said "That kid doesn't look like the rest of them".


You still think I'm pulling your legs, don't you? Part II to follow.
underthewillows: (Default)
Backing up a minute: Ireland has its own indigenous population of what are not exactly gypsies in the classical sense - they're called Travellers (formerly Itinerants, back in the old days, Tinkers). Like everyone else, there are decent, great people among them and some not so great. Like everyone else, there are people prejudiced about them amongst the Settled community (that's the non-Travellers). They've had the traditional reputation of misconduct attributed to gypsies: theft, begging, vagrancy, neglect/mistreatment of their children and animals, etc.

Then in the 90s we got the authentic Roma coming to live amongst us, after the general collapse of the Eastern Bloc regimes and specially with the influx of immigration from Romania after the fall of Ceaușescu. They got all the normal prejudice about Travellers with added "bloody foreigners" and bonus "bloody dark-skinned foreigners" to boot.

Were there a lot of suddenly visible Roma begging on our streets? Yes, even in my own town. Did we never before have beggars in Ireland? What do you think?

Anyhow, since we've even had prejudice against the Poles (fellow white-skinned Roman Catholics) expressed by some bandwagon-jumping politicians and some seriously nuts zealots in the balmy days of the Celtic Tiger (when instead of us going Over There for work, as we're back to doing, suddenly Them from Over There were coming to us for work), how do you think really foreign foreigners get treated, particularly when they're linked with the Travellers?

If we really wanted to know, we've had ample evidence in the past three days.

(1) Seven-year old girl taken into care from her family in Dublin
(2) Two-year old boy taken into care from his family in Athlone

Please note the photos used to illustrate the story by the newspaper in the first case: the blue-eyed, blonde girl taken from the Greek Roma family, who has been proven by DNA testing not to be their child.

That's the engine driving the story as far as the papers and so-called journalists are concerned (yes, Paul Connolly, I'm saying you're a hack and a self-publicist, not a journalist or a brave crusader against crime).

What was the reason the children were taken? The police (An Garda Síochána, the Civic Guard, in popular parlance the Guards)said it was under Section 12 of the Child Care Act. Let's have a gander at the wording of that section:


PART III

Protection of Children in Emergencies


Power of Garda Síochána to take a child to safety.

12.—(1) Where a member of the Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds for believing that—


(a) there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child, and


(b) it would not be sufficient for the protection of the child from such immediate and serious risk to await the making of an application for an emergency care order by a health board under section 13 ,


the member, accompanied by such other persons as may be necessary, may, without warrant, enter (if need be by force) any house or other place (including any building or part of a building, tent, caravan or other temporary or moveable structure, vehicle, vessel, aircraft or hovercraft) and remove the child to safety.


(2) The provisions of subsection (1) are without prejudice to any other powers exercisable by a member of the Garda Síochána.


(3) Where a child is removed by a member of the Garda Síochána in accordance with subsection (1), the child shall as soon as possible be delivered up to the custody of the health board for the area in which the child is for the time being.


(4) Where a child is delivered up to the custody of a health board in accordance with subsection (3), the health board shall, unless it returns the child to the parent having custody of him or a person acting in loco parentis, make application for an emergency care order at the next sitting of the District Court held in the same district court district or, in the event that the next such sitting is not due to be held within three days of the date on which the child is delivered up to the custody of the health board, at a sitting of the District Court, which has been specially arranged under section 13 (4), held within the said three days, and it shall be lawful for the health board to retain custody of the child pending the hearing of that application.


Now, here's where I start flipping the metaphorical table and kicking the metaphorical cat. Did the police and social services have suspicions of abuse? Apparently, no. Did the police and social services remove the other children of those families? NO.

Isn't that crazy? You think parents/guardians are endangering a child by neglect or active abuse, but you leave other at-risk children in the home? Why would you do that?

Why, if the other kids look like their parents!

Yes, THAT is the reason the forces of the State swooped in to take away the Dublin girl and Athlone boy. They didn't look like the rest of the family.

You still think this is an elaborate joke, don't you? What kind of crazy story is that? This is one of those "Dumb Paddy" jokes only with a really elaborate set-up, isn't it?

Oh no, my friends. Welcome to secular, liberal, progressive, integrated Ireland of 2013. Where your kids can be taken away from you if someone rings up the police that they don't look exactly like you. Or even if they don't ring the police, they ring a "scare the punters" true crime show on a down-market TV station, and the 'journalist' presenter of said show then rings the cops and asks "Whaddya gonna do about this?"

Possible bad publicity from a tabloid journalist salivating for a story about public neglect and child endangerment garnished with appeals to lowest-common-denominator prejudice about foreign Gypsy beggars and thieves and welfare spongers, with a salacious suggestion of paedophile/child pornography sex trafficking sprinkled on top?

Why, that might make us (and more importantly, our political masters) look bad! Quick, to the Batmobile!
underthewillows: (Default)
So you can have your children taken away from you in Ireland if, on the judgement of a neighbour or random passer-by, they don't look sufficiently like you?

Of course not! What kind of banana republic do you think we're running here? That only happens if you are dark and the kid is fair!

There are to my certain knowledge at least three families in my town and surrounding areas where one child looks nothing like the rest of the family. This is because the child is Chinese and the parents are native Irish (foreign adoptions).

Do you think the child protection services were called in on them? Do you think it was even dreamed of happening in such cases?

Tell me again about how modern Ireland is so progressive. Here is where I start insulting everyone.

We have a coalition government at the moment. It consists of a centrist-right party (not as right-wing as a former, now defunct party but slightly more right-wing than the other main opposition party) and an allegedly left-wing party (insert for yourself the eyerolling, gagging noises, and casting hands up to Heaven regarding the modern Irish Labour party).

Two of the minority party ministers are out and admitted atheists. One of them holds the position analogous to Deputy Prime Minister, the other is our Minister for Education. They have been tripping over themselves rushing to fearlessly take on the power of the Catholic Church in Irish public life.

Our Minister for Justice (the boss of the police and the one setting the tone for policing strategy and policy) is Jewish.

Our Prime Minister (to use an analogous term) is Catholic, but he's been proudly and bravely standing up to reactionary Catholic fanaticism (even allegedly going so far as condemnations that he will burn in Hell!) over the recent Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (which everyone calls the abortion act, because it permits a limited form of legal abortion in Ireland for the first time).

Why do I mention this? Because this can't be pinned on the Bad Old Days or the Bad Old Church. The same newspapers and TV stations that were plastering 'shock, horror' stories about the Magdalen Laundries and how in the dark days of the 50s children could be taken away from their families at the whim of the nuns and priests with the State as a complacent lapdog, are the ones who whipped up the hysteria about "welfare scroungers" and "Gypsies stealing white babies".

The same government, that is committed to a secular, progressive, inclusive social agenda, the same government that campaigned for a "Yes" vote (to a referendum on children's rights which would amend our Constitution) in such a fashion that the Supreme Court judged the information campaign had not been "fair, impartial or unbiased"; the same government which assured us that the extended powers of social services to take children into care would not be abused - this is the same government presiding over these two scandalous cases.

They're going to try to push the blame off on the cops and the social workers, and there is certainly a case to answer there, but our Minister for Justice and our Minister for Children (a spiffy new post only created in the wake of the 2012 amendment) should be out there making statements explaining the whys and the wherefores.

And not them alone. The great and the good of charitable causes were all pushing for the amendment, all claiming that it would finally give children a voice and recognise their rights.

One of the rights is this:

The views of the child mean that the voice of the child must be heard and respected in all matters concerning his or her rights. For example, those in power should consult with children before making decisions that will affect them.

How much consulting went on with the girl taken from her family home, I wonder? The various secular saints of good causes, especially children's rights, are very silent on this point. The websites for the Children's Rights Alliance and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children have posts up about the defeat in court of the challenge to the referendum. They have nothing about two children from a specific ethnic group being taken out of their homes by the forces of the state on anonymous tips - not about cruelty or abuse or neglect, but nebulous fears based on phenotypic appearance.

The chief executive of Barnados, whose face I got heartily sick of seeing placarded on billboards and in the papers and on the telly when he was looking for a nomination to run for the Presidency of Ireland back in 2011, and who trumpeted his involvement in children's affairs as a reason why he'd be a good servant of the public interest, hasn't uttered a word on the topic that I'm aware of.

These are not the rosary-rattling, puritanical, repressive, priest-ridden Catholic hypocrite politicians of the Bad Old Days. These are the Good Guys, as they're never tired of reminding us.

And yet, in modern Ireland of 2013, a tabloid hack ginning up publicity for his TV show can set in motion the police force and health authority to stage a raid based on a naked appeal to public prejudice and fear, on the part of the authorities, of bad publicity.

We're left with a couple of conclusions that are depressing, to say the least. First, either there were no complaints of abuse or neglect prior to these raids (I can't think of a better way to describe them) and they were carried out purely, as I have said, as a prophylactic against bad PR. Or there were abuse concerns, but nobody was bothered to get involved (or the usual inefficiency and muddle that I observed was the rule) until the journalist sniffed out a juicy story - that's not much better, since in both cases, the other children of the families were left in the homes. No fears for their safety?

Secondly, my late father had brown eyes. I have blue eyes. Should I have been removed by the health board on the grounds that I didn't look like my parent? My younger brother was blond as a child, while all the rest of us had mid to dark brown hair. Should he have been taken away because he didn't resemble the rest of his family? My brown-haired sister is married to a brown-haired man. Their younger son is blond. Does that mean she should have to produce evidence at the drop of a hat that he really is their son? How about the local families with obviously foreign children - are they exploiting them by sending them out to beg and steal?

You can all guess why I'm not seriously worried about these instances. Because all of us in the above examples are WHITE.

Ah, isn't it grand to be alive at this day and hour in (w)holy (liberated from repression), no-longer Catholic, Ireland!
underthewillows: (Default)
I've mentioned several times a referendum held in 2012 in Ireland to introduce an amendment to the Constitution.

It was touted as recognising, for the first times, the rights of children as individuals in their own right and not as secondary to their parents. Everyone who was anyone in children's advocacy bodies, from voluntary to the state sector, was all over the place pushing for this.

Some people were not so enthusiastic. I was one of them. Because I'm a bitter old hag who wants to force children to remain in bad homes where drunken, violent adults beat, starve and rape them.

(I mean, that's the only reason anyone could not want the sunshine-and-puppies amendment passed, right?)

Here's what was passed, as a result of the majority "Yes" vote on the referendum:

Article 42A

1 The State recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far as practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.

2 1° In exceptional cases, where the parents, regardless of their marital status, fail in their duty towards their children to such an extent that the safety or welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected, the State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.

2° Provision shall be made by law for the adoption of any child where the parents have failed for such a period of time as may be prescribed by law in their duty towards the child and where the best interests of the child so require.

3 Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child.

4 1° Provision shall be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings—
i brought by the State, as guardian of the common good, for the purpose of preventing the safety and welfare of any child from being prejudicially affected, or
ii concerning the adoption, guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.

2° Provision shall be made by law for securing, as far as practicable, that in all proceedings referred to in subsection 1° of this section in respect of any child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the views of the child shall be ascertained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child.


Call me old-fashioned, but the language about the "natural and imprescriptible rights of the child" seemed rather vague. Just imagine two sets of lawyers duking it out over what that means in a nasty custody fight!

And I didn't quite like the notion that the State could put a child up for adoption without the consent of the parents after a "period of time" to be defined by the State. How long? Six months? Three years? Some families need help and support to get things back to normal. There are plenty of condemnations of the Bad Old Days where when a woman died and a father was left to raise a family, the Authorities (Church and State) swooped in to put the kids in an orphanage or industrial school if they judged he wasn't up to the task. How is this any better?

The rationale was that there were loads of kids in care and foster situations where families wanted to adopt them but couldn't due to the parents not giving consent, yet they would realistically never go back to their natural families. I was sceptical about that, firstly because we never got any actual numbers of these alleged potential adoptions and secondly, I wonder how many foster families do end up adopting one or more of the children in their care?

But mostly I was opposed to expanding the powers of the State in this area based on my experiences with the social workers, health boards, and other state agencies that I underwent in my time working as clerical support in a school.

Now there are a lot of hard-working people out there trying to do their best, but the system as it is set up is not one bit helpful. I know that "anecdotes are not data", but one example may help you see where I'm coming from.

A particular girl in the school had a social worker appointed to her case. Over the five years, it went like this:

Social Worker A phones up or calls to school. Hi, I'm X's social worker, tell me all about her. Deputy Principal (who interested herself in X's case and did the lion's share of looking out for her) would give me all the notes to date to type up in confidence and hand them over.

If needs be, we would ring up Social Worker A for any problems/discussions involving X. Always a crapshoot as to whether A was available; often the Deputy Principal ended up making the decisions about X for want of anyone else around.

Six months or so down the line, when X had finally established some kind of relationship with Social Worker A, trusted them, had a rapport - we might need to ring A, or ask A to call into the school, or A would write to notify us.

Hi, I'm not on X's case anymore, that's been handed over to Social Worker B.

We might not even find that out until we rang up looking for A and were told "No, it's B dealing with X now."

Social Worker B phones up or calls to school. Hi, I'm X's new social worker, tell me all about her. Entirely new set of notes gets typed up because apparently old set weren't handed on. Rinse and repeat as above over five years.

For a child in a vulnerable situation, without a stable home life, how is he or she to develop any trust or expectation that the adult in charge of making decisions about them is going to be there to take care of them with that kind of carry-on?

And this is why I voted "No" in the Rainbows and Kitties Referendum. And as we see from the two recent cases, the existing amendment to the Child Care Act

"Where a member of the Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds for believing that—

(a) there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child, and

(b) it would not be sufficient for the protection of the child from such immediate and serious risk


would seem to be saying that "reasonable grounds for believing" means "you have blue eyes and your parents have brown eyes".
underthewillows: (Default)
So our Minister for Justice has been speaking about the cases of the two children who were taken from immigrant Roma families on the basis of concerns that they were not the biological children of those families (with the implication that the children were stolen or kidnapped).

"Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland Shatter said that the “international backdrop” of the case in Greece “that has been under the spotlight for sometime may have had possibly some undue influence in the decisions that were made” in two cases in Ireland this week."

The fuck you say, Alan! Who would have thought it? How did at least one of the cases happen? Why, a public-spirited citizen contacted (by leaving a message on Facebook, as some accounts have it) a TV crime show, who then got the police involved. In the second case, a member of the public got onto the cops directly.

Now, let's have a look at the legislation under which the children were taken out of their homes and put in temporary care:


PART III

Protection of Children in Emergencies


Power of Garda Síochána to take a child to safety.

12.—(1) Where a member of the Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds for believing that —


(a) there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child, and

(b) it would not be sufficient for the protection of the child from such immediate and serious risk to await the making of an application for an emergency care order by a health board under section 13,

the member, accompanied by such other persons as may be necessary, may, without warrant, enter (if need be by force) any house or other place (including any building or part of a building, tent, caravan or other temporary or moveable structure, vehicle, vessel, aircraft or hovercraft) and remove the child to safety.

(2) The provisions of subsection (1) are without prejudice to any other powers exercisable by a member of the Garda Síochána.

(3) Where a child is removed by a member of the Garda Síochána in accordance with subsection (1), the child shall as soon as possible be delivered up to the custody of the health board for the area in which the child is for the time being.

(4) Where a child is delivered up to the custody of a health board in accordance with subsection (3), the health board shall, unless it returns the child to the parent having custody of him or a person acting in loco parentis, make application for an emergency care order at the next sitting of the District Court held in the same district court district or, in the event that the next such sitting is not due to be held within three days of the date on which the child is delivered up to the custody of the health board, at a sitting of the District Court, which has been specially arranged under section 13 (4), held within the said three days, and it shall be lawful for the health board to retain custody of the child pending the hearing of that application.


So what was this "immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child" that meant the police and the health services had to remove the children?

(1) The seven year old girl in Dublin:

The message that prompted the case was with the Paul Connolly Investigates programme on TV3 on Monday.

It read: “Hi Paul. Today was on the news that blond child found in (named ethnic group) camp in Greece. There is also a little girl living in a… house in (named suburb) and she is blond and blue eyes.”


(2) The two year old boy in Athlone:

In the second case, a two-year-old boy was removed by gardaí from his family home on Tuesday evening in the Midlands.

His father was invited down to the local Garda station and on arrival was informed his son was being taken from him after concerns had been expressed, by a member of the public, that the boy was not the biological child of the man and his wife as they insisted.


Yep. That's it. Nobody said "These children are being beaten by their parents". So far as we know (we'll have to wait for the reports from the Guards and the Health Service Executive for the details), when the guards arrived on the doorstep, nobody said "Aha! Evidence of neglect and abuse!" So far as we know, there were no previous reports or concerns about children at risk in these households.

So why did the police use what the Minister for Children has described as exceptional powers for exceptional cases to remove two children from their families? And why, if there was an abuse/neglect risk, did they not take the other children in the houses as well from a place of endangerment?

The ugly fact of the matter appears to be this: the sole basis for reporting these suspicions in the first place and acting upon them in the second appears to be based on nothing more than "The parents are dark, the children are fair" (and with the overtones of "Not alone are the parents dark, they're foreign and not alone are they foreign, they're Gypsies").

Tabloid coverage and sensationalism about the case in Greece (and we still don't even know what exactly is going on there: the girl in the Greek case is not related to the couple raising her, but they claim she was handed over in an informal adoption), coupled with generations of stories about Gypsies stealing children, acted upon the simmering prejudices and blatant racism in Irish society, stoked by politicians (including members of the present government) being willing to use vote-catching mantras about "welfare cheats" and "dole scroungers" and petty criminality (all those foreigners coming in here living off welfare at our expense is why the social welfare bill is so high and why we, the hard-working Irish, are being taxed and charged out of existence and have our benefits and allowances cut).

The police in Dublin obviously reacted as they did because of the involvement of the TV journalist. Faced with the possibility of negative publicity if they did not do the maximum, the fear of a big splashy story by a tabloid journalist and lowest-common-denominator broadcasting TV station panting for a juicy scandal "We reveal shocking truth about child trafficking!" special broadcast, hanging the police out to dry if they did not investigate and remove the child, of course they decided to take the story seriously, question the family, and take the child into care.

Their colleagues in Athlone probably were motivated by the same concerns: being pilloried in the press and on TV for falling down on the job where children were at risk.

So the blue-eyed blond(e) children were removed from these shady characters - while the dark-eyed brunette children were left in their care. There might be some fig leaf of rationale if all children in the houses had been taken into temporary care on the grounds of suspected risk, but to take the 'white' child and leave the Roma-looking one - that's pretty damn blatant.

These parents were lucky that DNA testing proved they were telling the truth. The trouble is, what happens next? Are we going to have a serious debate about racism and prejudice in Ireland, and the role that the media (all of them) have to play in stoking these kinds of scares? Or are we going to retreat from facing these questions and leave it so that people are afraid to report genuine suspicions for fear of scaremongering, the police and social services are seen as agents of oppression not of support, and children at risk will be left to sink or swim depending on if they're lucky enough to catch the eye of someone who will do something about it?
underthewillows: (Default)
When the investigations have been completed, the reports finally issued, and the press conferences held, here is what I do NOT want to happen:

- Junior or lower-level members of the police and/or health services carrying the can for this

- Scapegoat thrown to the wolves to appease public disquiet

- After the showtrial, move along folks, business as usual

What I DO want:

- An in-depth look at this legislation and any forthcoming legislation, and some concrete definitions on what the hell is a reasonable belief or grounds for suspicion; when can you take children away; when do you leave them with parents; nail it down and don't leave the people working at the coalface dangling in the wind when they have to make decisions on wording that has Supreme Court judges doing fine hair-splitting as to what it means

- Newspapers and television all taking a good hard look at themselves and their responsibility in this (and all of them, not the broadsheets being sniffy about the redtops: they all in their various manners spread around the story of the Greek Roma alleged child abduction)

- Serious consideration of racism in Ireland, not the same old head in the sand approach. This means also recognising that some complaints about certain members of minority groups are valid and not motivated by racism or discrimination. Sometimes person X is a criminal or a risk to the neighbourhood. We need to get a balance between "All X are cheats and thieves!" and "Any X is blamed unfairly because of generations of prejudice!"

- That is going to be one hell of a tough conversation and there will be bad blood on both sides. But we need to have it

- Government and politicians looking at their own part. If you're peddling the notion of "We're pro-business, pro-employment; we want to help you help yourself" and that means making budget cuts, which you then justify as "We're only clearing out the false claimants and the cheats - did you know, by the way, most fraud is carried out by immigrants?" in order to attract the votes of the middle-class/white working-class - then you are part of the problem. You don't get away with dismissing it as over-zealous police when you're the guy or gal with the power of making policy
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