AN IRISH journalist has spoken of his shock after an article he wrote online was met with anti-Irish abuse.
Angry Telegraph readers took to the internet to abuse Irish people after Padraig Reidy wrote an article on its news blog saying he was supporting anyone but England in the World Cup.
While some commentators lined up to say immigrants who don’t like England should leave, others expressed explicitly anti-Irish sentiments.
“Spoken as a true mick. Stay home, paddy. We don't need or want your grudging support. Line up with us wholeheartedly or stay out,” wrote one reader under the screen-name ‘William Law’.
Another said: “It's a hot day and Paddy walks into a bar and asks for a pint of lager and lime. How much lime would you like Paddy asks the barman. Just a shovelful says Paddy.”
A third wrote: “Shouldn't you be out in the garden tending your potatoes?”
Mr Reidy, who has also written for the Guardian and the Irish Times, told The Irish Post he was “very surprised” by the reaction to his article.
“It was a fairly light-hearted piece and I would have happily taken people having a go at me personally, but the tone it took in terms of generalising about Irish people is quite worrying,” he said.
“It turned very quickly from addressing the article to general go-back-where-you-came-from-style abuse.”
Mr Reidy added that he was particularly shocked by comments from one reader, who suggested Irish people were to blame for the decline of Britain and warned against employing people from Ireland.
The commentator, using the alias ‘oldman’, said: “Interestingly the decline of the British nation began in the 1840s with the first wave of mass immigration from Ireland. Since then, the more immigrants we have, the greater the decline of Britain.”
Another reader replied: “But never have our drives been so well tarmacked [sic.]"
Oldman responded by saying: “Then you are very lucky. Never never never employ anyone who cold calls and speaks with an Irish accent. And the police won't help. I have been through that misery.”
Despite being taken aback by the tone of the discussion, Mr Reidy said he did not want to see the Telegraph take down any of the comments.
“It is good to know that these sentiments exist, to be honest, and censoring them won’t make them go away,” explained the 36-year-old, who often writes articles defending freedom of expression.
“I wouldn’t say that the Telegraph or any other website should censor anybody’s views unless they are genuinely trying to incite violence.”
Mr Reidy said none of his previous work had been met with anti-Irish abuse during his 16-year career.
But he added that he had previously encountered anti-Catholic abuse.
“What you tend to get, especially when you write about the Catholic Church, is a sense of lingering anti-Catholic sentiment,” he said.
“I think that still exists and is unacknowledged in Britain.”
The Irish Post has asked the Telegraph for comment but did not receive one.