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You'll find middle-class guilt hiding between the lines of love/hate's THUG

Speaking last week about the ongoing prejudice against the Travelling community, Love/Hate star John Connors said: "I think that racism against Travellers is the last acceptable form of racism left in this country.People say things that are just plain ignorant."

It's a state of affairs that Connors feels passionately about, as he has now threatened to sue FM104 for a skit in which, he claims, they mock the Travelling community.

Connors has been supported by the equally admirable Sarah Jane Dunne, a Traveller who has overcome prejudice to gain a degree from TCD and be signed up with a top model agency.

At the root of the whole debate, of course, is the character of Paddy in Love/Hate, played by Connors.

In portraying the Travelling community in a realistic manner, writer Stuart Carolan has rightly been praised.

But as the fifth season reaches its climax, here's an inconvenient thought.

Far from being respectfully handled, is the portrayal of Paddy, and by extension the Travelling community, actually quite patronising and flawed?

Consider the following. There were two speeches by Paddy in last week's episode which seem to have been gratuitously dropped in to portray the Travelling community in a softer light.

In one, Paddy explained to his son how he should be proud of his Traveller heritage.

It was a scene which didn't advance the story an inch, and whose sole purpose seemed to be to negate any possible accusations against RTE of prejudice towards Travellers.

In another, even more jarring exchange, Paddy considers what revenge to take on Packy, and ponders on the reality of taking someone's life.

"I'm not going to take a man's life for no reason," he eulogises. "You're going to carry that around with you. Like chains in the water, they bring you down. You kill a man and you're tied to him for all eternity."

Before, of course, cutting him up with a knife.

It's a scene that's blatantly designed to garner sympathy for Paddy, add complexity in his character and to reveal that he does these bad things with a heavy weight on his heart.

Which is all very well, except that it ignores one little issue.

Has it escaped everyone's attention that Paddy is bomb-maker, a profession whose sole result is to injure or kill other people?

So why is it that Paddy deserves such reverence, whereas all other criminals are portrayed as feckless thugs who "clip" their enemies without remorse?

terrified

The answer, of course, is that Paddy is a Traveller, and both Stuart Carolan, and no doubt RTE, are terrified of any perceived bias to that community.

Unfortunately, they have gone to the other extreme, and in going out of their way not to offend the community, their portrayal smacks at best of clumsy, manipulative film-making, and at worst of token, middle-class, liberal guilt.

Love/Hate would have you believe that Paddy is a Shakespearean tragic hero.

Whereas, when you strip away the devices employed by the film makers, he's just another gouger.


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