Happy to say I met a guy called Sam with a boat a couple of months back, a traditional Irish boat called a currach that he’d built in Stockholm. He wanted to sell it, I wanted to buy it – on the condition he’d row it to Ireland with me for illegal people in the EU. Sam said grand because he was planning a boat and heritage centre in Ireland based on Swedish models. And yes, you’ve guessed, it was kind of late at night when we met. Anyways, the day after he didn’t want to sell it, and I didn’t want to buy it – but we agreed to row it anyways. For the craic*.
So, what’s this Currhack 5533N project?
The row itself is a manifestation of expat (or ex-Paddy actually) community spirit and is being run by myself, Sam and Brian. It’s being run through the 5533N association and being received by the Rennafix group and Having a laugh festival in Ireland at the end of August 2013. It aims to profile the importance of community and the contribution other peoples make to host countries by crewing a boat from Sweden to Ireland in 8 EU countries while having a bit of craic along the way. We’re connecting the Irish community in in each country and associations for EU illegals and each country will organise crew, a receiving event with music and PR with a positive message. It starts in June in Stockholm, goes across Sweden to Gothenburg, then Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, England and Ireland.
Why do I think it is important?
The illegal migrant angle is crucial because we can see a hardening across Europe of attitudes towards people, in particular those who are not European and who come to Europe on a a tough journey most often for reasons far, far beyond their control. Irish emigrants historically up to recent times have been subject to very similar circumstances and also lived outside and below the system, as members of a perceived lower class or caste, to slowly work their way up and into the countries they moved to. And, at least in my opinion, they did this through community, contributing, hard work and keeping a positive attitude. Peoples living in the EU, and indeed any country, carry with them a very real and positive contribution to their host countries. This needs to be highlighted, not problematised. The row is this community spirit and positive contribution in action.
The time is now
We live in an EU where the citizens in practically every European country outside of the Nordics have voted for change in the last couple of years. Because the recession is killing them. Voted for change at precisely the same time as the fiscal and ideological stance of austerity is becoming systematised, meaning essentially that newly elected Governments will have very little they can practically do to stimulate the economy short-term. They’re on a long-term game. And what will happen when they fail? Well, I think the electorate will move to the next party on the list, which in some countries are extreme right parties. It’s a dangerous situation and I think for that reason even more urgent to now communicate community, contribution and positivity for and through the migrant communities in the EU, of which the Irish community is also part.
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*craic is a word in Irish for fun, enjoyment