“She calls her town a ‘s***hole'”: Irish newspaper smears Polish migrants

Alex Hern covers the ballsy attempt by the Irish Independent to smear a pair of Polish migrants by mistranslating an article that was freely available for all to check


An Irish newspaper has been caught out blatantly smearing a pair of Polish migrants to the country.

The Irish Independent published an article purporting to quote an interview the couple, Magda and Robert, gave to the Polish Gazeta paper, but a comparison with the original reveals that the quotes were, at best incompetently and at worst maliciously, butchered in translation.

The Independent reports that:

‘Magda’ (36), not her real name, described her life on the dole in Donegal as a ‘Hawaiian massage’…

Magda doesn’t identify the town in Co Donegal where she lives but she does call it a “s***hole”…

“Sometimes I sleep till noon and the nearest beach is five minutes away”…

[Robert] in turn bragged about the county’s wonderful golf courses.

In fact, as a commenter on the social news site Reddit picked up, the original report suggests a different story. Rather than describing her life as a Hawaiian massage, Magda is actually doing a course in massage therapy, developing a skill which she is exchanging for services [all quotes via Google translate]:

Now I have an appointment with a carpenter, that I will make a bookshelf, and I will massage his back, because the boy has problems with the spine.

Rather than simply calling the town she lives in a “s***hole”, she says:

Donegal, a county on the northern tip of Ireland, for some the most beautiful place in the world, but for others – the biggest shithole. Wherever you look carefully, green hills and beaches to the horizon, like a postcard.

On the other hand you can go to the beach for an hour and meet one old woman in [a macintosh].

On sleeping:

Day start is always the same: go to the beach to see the sunrise. It charges me for the rest of the day. Once, I slept until noon, now pity that life.

And as for golf, it is mentioned twice in the piece. Once by the author, and once by Magda herself:

On weekends, the middle class come here to play golf, and it attracts tourists in summer.

Hardly bragging.

Little wonder that the Polish ambassador to Ireland has written to the paper, saying:

The danger of an anti-immigrant atmosphere developing during harsh economic times is well-documented throughout history. I would hope that a major newspaper such as the Irish Independent would be conscious of this and take great care when fact-checking such a potentially inflammatory article.

See also:

Net A8 migration down 88 per centShamik Das, November 26th 2009

Polish politician attempts to suppress film exposing country’s anti-Semitic issuesLidia Wieczorek, November 4th 2009

Conservative party paranoia on PolandWill Straw, November 11th 2009

Five questions for Poland’s Chief RabbiWill Straw, October 29th 2009

Griffin’s historical ignorance of Poland’s war roleWill Straw, October 20th 2009

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