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Column: Why are the Irish so apathetic about antisocial behaviour?

Clare Kleinedler is a freelance journalist and American ex-pat who relocated to Drogheda from Los Angeles last year. In her blog this week she asks the question; why are the Irish so accepting of antisocial behaviour?

Clare Kleinedler

Clare Kleinedler is a freelance journalist and American ex-pat who relocated to Drogheda from Los Angeles last year. She writes a blog about her experiences in the country that has become her new home. This week she asks the question; why are we so accepting of antisocial behaviour?

FOR THE MOST PART, I really enjoy living in Ireland and I think I make that relatively clear in this blog. But there are days – and today is one of those days – where I really hate certain things about living here. Yes, I used the “h” word.

Since I try to be honest about my experience here I feel I should share the reasons why. This morning Mountaineering Man and I awoke to find a window had been smashed in his apartment building; apparently some jerkface kids in the neighborhood think it’s funny to throw rocks at windows until they shatter into a million pieces all over the sidewalk below. The window wasn’t MM’s, but rather one that looks out from the inside stairwell. There are several apartment blocks in his area that have numerous smashed communal windows, likely by the same culprits.

I’ve been seeing a lot of these moronic kids lately. Last Saturday night, as MM and his friend and I sat in a local pub, a group of four tween girls walked into the bar. Though they kept near the entrance, they loudly jeered at the barman from across the room.

“We were here last night,” one said, grinding her hips provocatively. “Last night, we were 18 years old here!”

The barman yelled for them to get out, but she kept going.

“But last night I was 18, don’t you remember?” she teased. Finally as the barman made his way toward them, they walked out. However, they stood outside, looking in from the street, taunting the barman with a variety of obscene hand gestures.

A few minutes later, two garda walked by. I felt some relief; though they were mere kids, several more had joined the girls and now they were a group of 8 or so. As the garda walked past, the girls mocked them and getting all up in their business, so to speak. One even lifted up her shirt to reveal her bra, thrusting her chest very close to one of the guards.

What did they do? Nothing. The guards laughed and kept walking, even though the girls followed them at least half-way down the street, hurling insults the whole way. They were about as effective as American mall security guards in that situation. Wait, scratch that. Mall security guards would have at least asked them to leave or rang the real police for that type of disruptive behavior. The kids in this scenario continued to harass every patron that passed them to enter the bar until finally the barman’s girlfriend went outside and gave them orders to get away or else she would ring some garda who would actually do something. I admired her for taking a stand.

That type of enforcement is incredibly rare around here. I don’t know what came first: Irish people’s indifference and general apathy or the sheer unresponsiveness of those in charge. Though this is the second window that’s been broken in MM’s apartment building in the last month, the building management hasn’t done sh*t about it (and the tenants pay a heft “management” fee annually for their services, or lack thereof). And while MM did ring and talk to someone at the management company, I’m not sure if anyone else in the building has done anything similar. People are surely fed up, but it seems their attitude is, “Ah nothing will be done about it anyway.” Call me typically American but what does it take for people to band together and demand change? Moreover, what does it take for those in charge to actually do their jobs?

I’m certainly not the poster child for American nationalism – the U.S. has its own share of problems. But I will say this: Americans generally have a D.I.Y. attitude, and we’re firm believers in the idea that each of us needs to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. No one else is going to do it for us. I really wish I saw more of this in Ireland instead of the incredible ennui that seems to be the norm here. Needless to say I’m not referring to the entire population – I am only going on what I’ve seen so far.

In any case, tomorrow is a new day and I’m sure I’ll have a new attitude. But today I just had to vent. Thanks for reading.

Read more by Clare Kleinedler on her blog: anamericaninireland.com >

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