Feeding Anglophobia is the Turn Off the Red Light (TORL) campaign’s latest social media strategy. Since February 9th, the TORL twitter feed has been regularly announcing that the only opposition to TORL is ‘English escort agencies’:
Clearly to summarise all opposition to TORL as ‘English escort agencies’ is quite ridiculous, but as with their on-going 29 children campaign, TORL are not going to let the truth get in the way of any possible means of whipping up support for bedroom policing.
Those who spoke against TORL at the Justice Committee hearings were academics and health workers, Dr Gillian Wylie, Dr Eilís Ward, Dr Kathryn McGarry, Dr Teresa Whitaker, Dr Derek Freedman, Michael Quinlan and Daniel McCartney. I expect you won’t find any of their phone numbers on ‘tart cards’ in London phone boxes.
A number of sex workers in Ireland are English. That could be what TORL are referring to. Most are independent sex workers, but of course TORL would dispute that.
The presence of English sex workers in Ireland is not, incidentally, new. There were many English sex workers in Ireland back in the days of the Monto. Likewise there has always been many Irish sex workers in England. Sex workers often prefer to work a little away from their home, for privacy, and this has long been the way.
Or perhaps TORL are referring to escort advertising companies. Such businesses are now invariably not based in Ireland. The reason for this is The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, which criminalised advertising prostitution. Prior to this, most sex workers advertised in an Irish-owned publication, the In Dublin magazine.
Whatever they mean, TORL are also getting this latest tactic of trying to whip up Anglophobia straight out of the history books. Prostitution was highly politicised by Irish nationalists in the period between 1900 and 1922, who linked it with presence of the British in Ireland.
As Maria Luddy wrote in Prostitution and Irish Society 1800-1940, “Prostitution in early twentieth-century Ireland became bound up with the cause of Irish independence. The prostitute became a symbol of British oppression and the means by which the British soldier infected the Irish nation with physical disease and immorality.” Such was the self-belief in the moral superiority of the Irish people over the English, once independence was achieved, sexual immorality was expected to disappear. The Christian Brothers said in 1924 that “purity is the national virtue of Ireland.”
The notion that the Irish Free State would be immune from sexual problems, that these were ‘foreign vices’ associated with England, was of course incorrect, as the increases in illegitimacy and venereal disease soon showed. The Irish solution was then to hide its sexual immorality, put those ‘bad women’ away in Magdalene laundries and place children in industrial schools to prevent them sinning.
The idea of England being Ireland’s sexual corrupter long persisted and perhaps still does to some extent TORL are hoping. Maria Luddy says in her book that, when she first started giving talks on prostitution in Ireland in the late 1980s, after one talk in Limerick, two members of the audience approached her aggressively to ask her how she could talk of such a subject and thank God the British had gone as there had been no prostitution in Ireland since.
Sinn Féin’s Justice Spokesperson, TD Padraig MacLochlainn, may have been the first to swallow this Anglophobia TORL are trying to feed. Amongst the reasons he gave yesterday for announcing his support for TORL and intention to have Sinn Féin endorse TORL was the belief that sinister opposition was coming from overseas.
There were some great responses to Padraig MacLochlainn’s announcement yesterday by sex workers, You’ve gotta fight, for you’re right… and Padraig MacLochlainn makes political decision based on tweets, bullies public, and doesn’t deny pimp with 5 aliases gave evidence to Irish prostitution hearing.
In 1941 in The Bell magazine, a contributor on the subject of censorship suggested that “the average Irish mind has not, and perhaps never had, a properly balanced outlook on sex. Either it runs away from sex or it runs after it; it never seems to be able to stand and look at it objectively. Will it ever learn?”
The experience of sex workers in 2013, who want to be heard in this current debate on the future of prostitution legislation, is that you still can’t have a proper debate on the subject of prostitution.
This latest TORL anti-English propaganda campaign is just silly.
The anti-English TORL tweets are also racist, ironically, given that the TORL twitter account is managed by Sister Stan’s Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), an organisation which claims combating racism is one of its main aims.