Stories

Don’t Come Home – E.F. Fluff

“Why didn’t you contact us sooner?”

The woman from the embassy’s voice came at a taut snap. It had a familiar familial aural irritation where the invectives and idiot bits are silent within the inflection. 

“What?”

“Why didn’t you contact us sooner?”

It mirrored island voices you hear that are irritated when you finally muster up the courage to come to them to report an abuse.

“Tell me everything”

When I finally broke and phoned the Irish Embassy in Helsinki, I was quite literally at my wits’ end due to the stress of the strange series of events I had found myself entangled in.

It’d been so long since I’d spoken to an Irish voice that I’d forgotten the watchful need for a detailed ear, that I misread the request. Or so the ambassador tells me.

I had resisted contacting the embassy because I wanted to handle the problems on my own. 

I had not travelled thousands of miles to do the old role of the Irish immigrant and sequester myself in the Irish bars within the Irish immigrant community. Refusing to learn the language with the same’ole potato-faced ignorant shrug. 

Sure, what was the point in travel if you did that?

Why go anywhere?

“The Helsinki police will not be investigating the death threats made against for fear of damaging Mr. Ruokonen’s reputation and no witnesses.”

“But you were listed as a witness, why are you not there?”

“I don’t know, it’s like they’ve made me disappear on paper.”

With an attempted blinding and murder attempt, an insurance broker filing false police complaints, a police really only interested in the law if it could be applied against me and more, this was close to the point where things had reached such stressful absurdity that I thought perhaps it was time to ask the Irish embassy for help.

After a detailed run-through of the events, Caoimh promised me she’d be in touch on Monday, and that the embassy would do everything they could to help. I was asked to email further information, and assured “we have our best people on it.”

Had I spent more time at home, or perhaps lingering in Irish bars, I might have caught the snide bullshit in the comment. The first sign of interest and help; an almost willing cognitive dissonance blindfold.

The Irish embassy in Helsinki sent me a list of attorneys, and informed me, that had I been attacked they could help me, and that they could not help with civil cases. I emailed back that I had been, that it was not a civil case, that I had been told repeatedly it was a criminal case, and that the prosecutor had refused to allow me to drop the case.

A point I would later learn was illegal and against my rights. But then I have the Finnish Judiciary on paper lying to me about judicial process, and also telling me I am due neither constitutional nor human rights.

At no point during this adventure, then and now, did the law or rights appear to apply to me. Anywhere, any laws; unless, as mentioned, someone was attempting to apply them against me.

I tried the embassy again. 

The embassy repeated itself then went dead. Seems as an Irish citizen, my word was mud.

In the end, I came home with the plan to leave again, as bizarre as it sounds, back to Finland with my affairs in order.

If the Dublin I left was riddled with cocaine, the Dublin I returned to seemed to be composed of it on a cellular level.

Knowing someone in the ‘Ra for ominous threats had once again become fashionable and the Gardai had dropped all semblance of a functioning police force, except on the easy things; parades and the like. Or where personal profit, sadism, a favour here or there and adventurism. Love a bit of adventure the Gards do. 

I thought perhaps, while in Dublin, there might be some legal help. Irish solicitors act like a fantasy landed gentry that think no one else can read the documents they barely skim.  

It’s an odd thing being told European Arrest Warrants cannot be issued for financial reasons whilst staring at the second page of the document on the EU page. If you disagree with your average Dublin Solicitor, like say “but it says right there on the EU paper on an EAW that they have two paths, A: Criminal B: Financial…” it’ll slide into an argument as the solicitor bristles at the serf. 

The old adage of “Go to Sinn Fein they’ll help you where others won’t” – unless perhaps you’re from the country, or know someone who knows someone who knows someone who has someone’s ear. Sinn Fein aren’t even bothered to reply to correspondence beyond an automated received message. 

No other politicians or representatives will reply either. 

If Mannix Flynn is going to shout and berate a single mother whose child was abused in care, when his entire career is based on railing against the abuses he and those of his generation suffered, what hope do I have of that famous man of the people listening? Especially when he can’t even acknowledge a letter.

There is a conundrum in Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan. In that he will make good to help while attempting to dissuade you of doing anything, “this type of corruption is widespread across Europe and endemic in Ireland” and that there’s nothing you can do. They’ll help until they abruptly don’t and refuse to give updates on what they were doing. Strangely, they have absolutely no care for your safety, choosing not to see privacy requests when it suits them and his ex-military man Diarmuid O’Flynn will busy you up with tales about how hunger strikers he guarded faked it, like Seán Mac Stíofáin, faked it – so you should too. And then there was that time he’ll liken a forty-one day hunger strike to a seven day bread and water fast.

Or that failed protest walk or bicycle ride to the city. Drivel theatrics for the faint of mind, and weak of heart. When you find rights’ groups dead in the water, seemingly only useful while Ming Flanagan needed to get his driver’s license back, and they appear to operate as sort of plastic paddy inversions of Nigel Farage. Pseudopods for the people.

Irish representatives want it; easy or… not too hard. 

It’s hard not to wonder if every revolution we had was coached by someone red-faced screaming, “If ye don’t stop actin’ the maggot I’ll turn this shaggin’ rebellion right around and drive us all back to Cork!”

Irish human rights lawyers suddenly don’t understand European law and it would seem only want the easy cases. Nothing heavy on reading or listening. But then UK human rights lawyers will review the information and tell you that they don’t want to put their family in danger. 

Free legal aid? FLAC? Citizens Advice? He started crying and had to keep turning away to wipe his eyes. “Just one of these cases would be too much for someone, but all of this, I don’t know how you’re coping”

 

“Dry your eyes mate”

Access Officers don’t appear to do anything. You can tell them you’re disabled, but they often won’t reply. You can write to the Access Officer for the Minister of Justice and Equality, and they’ll write back, and tell you you’re not disabled, go away.

Irish doctors will refuse to look at foreign medical records, and refuse to honour prescriptions or even phone to verify them.

Sure, foreign doctors aren’t real doctors – even if they are in the EU. Everybody knows that.

Returning home is often difficult at the best of times. There are the friends that are happy to see you, then there are the unexpected friends you maybe weren’t completely aware of. There are onion layers of jealousy and resentment. People have died, others have left. While people have changed, many have not, and neither camp wants to allow you to have changed.

If you come home from trouble abroad; expect nothing. Except maybe people mining for gossip. Irish people believe once you return home, all those troubles that were abroad should cease to exist, like a fridge light going off once the door is closed. When this concept is challenged, it tends to irritate them, and disrupt their world view.

In these cases, it is easier to cast assumption on a person’s mental health- often this goes hand in hand with telling them their story is made up, or they’re lying about what happened and it’s all their fault anyway. The immediate need to cast fault on a fellow Irish person is the go-to response anyway.

If you left because the country is a mess; just wait until you see it now. We’ve shat out the mutant child of 1984. We’ve got shamrock concentration camps, and an out of control drug war. A housing crisis trying to bring back tenements, and neo-nazis. Our Taoiseach is a high functioning psychopath. Social workers trying to hide a new hellscape opened up on our children and single mothers. And no one will make any decisions because decisions are bad, sure, you may end up being held accountable for something.

The ever-presence of bad quality cocaine and a growing sociopathy frothing up from a sort of halfwit neo-liberalism and crook-toothed American social darwinism has sapped the country’s kindness and empathy. And the nouveau-nouveau-lower-upper middle class the tech giants have given us read little, so they aren’t even aware their burgeoning opinions sound like 1970s Tories. 

We’re closing down all our venues, and art spaces are hen’s diamond teeth. There’s a new working poor and the city is one of the most expensive to just exist in, in the world. Yet they keep putting the call out, “come home, come home…” like the homing signal in some long infected space station trying to lure new victims.        

  

I learned a lot of things living outside of Ireland. Things like: if you phoned an embassy, someone like Caoimh would only be interested in hearing your story because of the small village gossip matrix. That, unless you were dead or needed a passport, the embassy served no use unless you wanted to provide some entertainment for the diplomatic core midges.

I learned whereas other countries may be fiercely loyal to their citizens, Ireland will act annoyed, inclined to be like the embarrassed abusive parent cuffing their wounded child around the ear. I learned Irish journalists are cowards; be careful who you tell your story to. Sure, if they put as much work into trying to write it down as they did trying to cast you into a bad light, that’s when they’re not trying to get you killed for a story.

Overall, the sentence is, be careful who you tell your story to, warnings come and drift from all corners of the city, of people overhearing you talking and passing on warnings to shut up, ‘lest you get in trouble with a beating or a bullet.’   

“But why?”

“They just don’t want to hear you talking. You know how people are, they gossip, they’ll twist and add things on. It’s better you just shut up.” 

I learned every state body, every complaints body, anything you can mention or name that might be there to ensure the machine runs clean, is broken. So broken, they might as well act like the painted tunnels in the Roadrunner cartoon, or fake doors that open to bare pitiless concrete.

I learned no one cares; “Please, shut up, stop talking, just let us drink in peace.”

But most of all, in returning home to Ireland.

I learned “Don’t come home.”

And

Don’t.

Don’t come home.