I want to break free…

It seems all but a few niche parties are currently outdoing themselves at more or less cleverly demonizing the so-called “uncontrolled, open-door immigration” into the “over-crowded and pushed for resources” United Kingdom.

If only those pesky immigrants would stop coming…. oh how I want to be free, oh how I want to break free.

I don’t want to waste my time on talking about the likes of BNP or UKIP. One openly racist and nasty, another rather mellow with a comically intoxicated, one-man-show soon-to-be-sir Nigel Farage. All I’ve got to say about the Super-Tories is that they seem to have no moral backbone when EU funding is concerned because they’re willing to enter into a coalition with openly women and gay bashing, racist and holocaust denying Congress of New Right from Poland, whose lord and savior one Janusz Korwin-Mikke, while ten times more intelligent and witty than Nige is a crackpot and a crackpot-magnet who was elected by disillusioned polish youth.  During the EU campaign people would say that during Korwin speeches all school buses were parked just around the corner.

Some of Korwin’s quotes include: If a wife misbehaves you might want to rape her, it’s what they want. Nobody has proof of the mass extermination of Jews, they wouldn’t be able to burn them so fast anyway. And many many more. All his female candidates in the EU elections were as he said it himself – “mothers, wives and lovers of the male party members” who did not want to be politicians but had to be there because of the EU Law governing Electoral Equality. The Polish New Right hasn’t got a single woman official, as according to Korwin women are best seen cooking, breast-feeding or on their knees.

Now let’s go back to the Blues and Reds who while pretending to be different sound exactly the same to me on the immigration issues.

Issue 1: Too many Eastern Europeans came to the UK when the borders opened in 2004.

We didn’t open the borders. You did. You could have kept them closed for 8 years like the rest of the EU. It’s a no brainer. Poor country joins, all other countries are not obtainable, where will they go? To the two countries which have told them to come.

I actually remember both British PM and Irish President giving a speech in 2003 actively encouraging people to pack their stuff and come to Blighty and/or EIRE. And oh boy, come they did.

Still, having said that – Britain/Ireland  really needed workers, fruit pickers, builders but also I accountants, bloody bankers, admin staff – especially in the south. And it got it.

I know people who have been here since 2004, have never claimed a single penny in Benefits, hardly used the NHS.  They feel unwelcome by what’s been happening. You can’t tell people to come and then kick them out or nudge them to bugger off.

Anyone who dares to suggest they’re a drain and should consider going back has not only got no business acumen but more importantly is guilty of dehumanization.

Issue 2: Benefits all these Eastern Europeans are claiming.

First of all, no Polish person was able to claim any benefits until May 2012 unless they’ve work for 12 months and have registered with a Worker Registration Scheme, which cost 100 pound you had to pay every time you changed your employers. (This applies to all 2004 EU entrants)

Furthermore, most people did not register with the WR Scheme, which meant even if they had worked for 4 years they were not entitled to any benefits, JSA, Housing Benefits, Tax Credits or Child Benefits.

My friend Kate, who works as an accountant for an Academy in London, came here in 2001, picked strawberries for less than 2 pounds an hour, got a break in 2007 when she started working for a City based business but unfortunately was laid off in 2008 during the crash. Now, she like most of my friends never paid the 100 pounds for the Worker Registration Scheme, but has been paying her taxed for over 7 years, yet she was refused any state help.

Had she been born in the UK and never worked a day in her life she could happily go on a claim  the JSA.

It is true that since 2012 all 2004 entrants can theoretically come to the UK, live here for 3 months and sign-on to claim the whooping 70 something pounds in JSA plus around 40 pounds a week in Housing Benefit (in Northern Ireland) but this conjecture assumes that this country is so special, someone would be willing to leave their family to come here as half starve on 5 pounds a day.  70 + 40 = 110 minus  60 in rent minus 15 in gas and electricity.

While people do make physically less,  6 pounds in UK compared to 3 pounds in Poland, the cost of rent, gas, water and especially good food is incredibly low. Anyone who’s been on a drunken hen or stag do in Cracow will be happy to confirm I’m afraid.

Regarding the Child Benefit. Nobody disputes the fact that someone whose children don’t live in the same country or maybe even home as the parent/s should be entitled to claim it.

What is disgusting is only IMMIGRANTS claiming the CHILD BENEFIT are every discussed. Why not make it universal and apply to everyone? To Alejandro Rivera from Spain but also to Mickey O’Flannigan or Michael Williams from Larne.

I’ve never heard any politician say – we will stop paying child benefits to anyone whose children don’t reside in the UK.

To be continued…

Feel free to give your support or criticize opinions expressed in this post @poleinbelfast.


Welcome to Belfast – Part 1 The Markets

Stones are flung through our windows. I ask a group of 10 years-old hoodies what seems to be the problem. The children express their doubts about us being catholic.
Welcome to Belfast. We’ll brew a nice hot cuppa when the wind finally ceases to blow. We’re slowly getting accustomed to the correlation between electrical supply and the wind.


When we first moved onto our street in the The Markets estate, Belfast City Council officials have advised us to contact Gerard, the unofficial leader of our neighborhood. Without his blessing, they explained happily showing they knew more than they were willing to divulge, we would have a very hard life down there. It had nothing to do with the electricity.

The peelers don’t come our way.

Look around and you’ll find rows of cozy redbrick terraced-houses.
The sidewalks are filled with young mothers pushing prams, going up and down the street morning till nightfall. With their tracksuits and cigarettes in the corners of their mouths, but still letting their children have some fresh air. But hidden behind the hedges there used to live top brass Irish Republican Army members. In fact, they still do, but now officially as dissidents. The police don’t really come to the Markets. No burglaries, no violence. All problems get sorted, using local manpower only.

The City Council tells me, Gerard the caretaker used to be a member of the Irish Republican Army, an ex-inmate now member of a group for people who used to be incarcerated, which unfortunately also happens to be a paramilitary organization. No one says it out loud.

When The Troubles were officially over, many freed Catholics and Protestants started to hurtle down a slippery path. They took drugs, burgled. Not all of them, but enough to create many groups all around Northern Ireland, with sole purpose of explaining to children and adults alike that racism was rather naïve and that both Protestants and Catholics were going to have to learn how to live together in Ulster, United Kingdom. Millions were spent on that idea.

This living together hasn’t really worked out as planned. According to newspapers, the biggest number of suicides in Europe can be found among Catholics living in West Belfast. Protestants in the East are doing a bit better. Everyone has lost someone in Northern Ireland, no one is immune to a personal trauma. One’s father was incarcerated or died during riots, the other’s wife is dead. He didn’t watch his son get older or he feels that depending on where he happened to be born, Ireland or the UK are lost or at the very least under threat. So he hangs himself, despite of the hundreds of NGOs offering therapy. One suicide follows another.

We used to know a catholic republican ex-convict in town. He was a tough guy who couldn’t bring himself to telling his mates about his low spirits and suicide thoughts. He was too ashamed to even mention it. So he would drive into Shankill Road, which happens to be the most Protestant part of Belfast. He went from one pub to another hoping for one of his enemies to finally kill him. He only escaped with his life when he was helped by a protestant paramilitary loyalist. He grabbed him by his shirt, drove him into a republican part of town, kicked him out on the street and told him not to come back again.

Others have more luck. Our protestant friend, Alistair, was only 17 when, while following orders, he killed a catholic. Only after being jailed for theft, he started educating himself and later became a therapist. He now spends his days touring schools and telling children about conflicts and how not to be bullied into doing anything by peers. He carries and air of darkness around him and is plagued by constant pangs of guilt. He can never show his face around Shankill Road where he grew up. He’s mates with Gerry, a catholic, who used to plant bombs which killed protestants. They are very close to each other. They defend the fragile peace process in unison when asked by school-children, but also joke that had they met 15 years ago, one of them would have had to die. Alistair wrote a book “Give a Boy a Gun”, a very good read indeed.

30 thousand Poles leave for Ulster.

The move to Ulster was a godsend after three years in London where my my marriage didn’t stand the test of 3 years abroad.

We met at the university in Cracow. I was a lecturer at the Jagellonian University, teaching about the ideology od Ji-Had, Islam art and the Islam civilization.
When my three-months scholarship at the University College London stopped coming we fell onto the very bottom of the social ladder.

We were poor as church mice. Because of our financial situation we suddenly found ourselves renting a flat along with five other people. We slept on a mattress. I got lucky, because I was offered another scholarship. I worked for a polish newspaper for a while. I would even occasionally fly to Cracow to give lectures at the UJ.

When I lost my newspaper gig, I carried on fighting as a freelancer. My husband however couldn’t wrap his head around it all. We started fighting. He started drinking. Finally he left for Afghanistan after a job and that was the end of us to be honest.

That’s when I met a woman from Belfast, who told me I could work for a polish newspaper there. The paper went bust and I was lucky enough to find this organization. I was supposed to look after people who were victims of hate crimes and work towards lessening cultural tensions. I was to provide information to Polish migrants about the British social services once they were faced with homelessness. I was also to send alcoholics to therapy or back home. I would also sometimes fill in benefit papers for those in need.

I created a support group for Women at Cross-roads, mainly for domestic abuse victims. I organised their time, workshops with different organization and therapy sessions with psychologist.

We’ll burn your house down.

So I went to Gerard’s place, knocked with a broad grin and explained that I was given his address by the Council and would kindly like to ask if I was going to have any problems living in here. I also added that I heard he was a renowned freedom-fighter. I obviously failed to mention other things I happened to hear, like the fact he was accused of taking part in a politically motivated murder.

Gerard was a towering 6’7 inches tall man. He remarked calmly that all the things I’ve heard about him were a load of rubbish. He used to be a member of the IRA but that’s about it. I happily told him that I understood and was very glad to have met him, while at the same time laughing inside as having red the IRA code I knew that one can never cease to be the member of this organization.

Gerard brewed a tea, he recognized me being from Poland, mentioned that he used to have some communist sentiments when he was younger and that he even has some till this day. He assured me that I’d have no problems fitting in with the neighborhood.

Me and the fiancé lived in peace for about three weeks. What followed were stones and rotten fruit thrown through our windows. We saw 10 years-old hoodies outside. The children expressed their doubts about us being catholic.
 They had us, I thought,  as we consider ourselves of no religion. I wasn’t however about to offer a group of 10 year-olds with stones in the hands a deep discussion regarding atheism. We swore that we came from catholic Poland. The gang leader replied that they were going to burn our house down. When I asked him why he looked like he had no idea what to answer to that.

My organization helps Polish people get accustomed to living in Northern Ireland, but I also double as a voluntary negotiator when any attacks on Poles take place. I used to tell my countrymen and women to always phone the police. And now what? Should I call? They’re just stupid boys, but in this country they could end up in jail. Putting a gang of 10 year-old into a juvie won’t help me or them.

That evening I phoned Gerald. I told him that the children may have been misinformed about our intentions. He invited me to his office. He was very official. He didn’t offer me a cup of tea. He only said that it shouldn’t happen again and said goodbye to me. He must have found out that my organization which is working towards integrating Polish population into the local community has contacts with the police, and that my salary – as a person responsible for hate crimes, was paid by the PSNI. I’m quite sure that was it as, talking to the peelers in The Markets is considered a mortal sin.

Since then, no one recognises me, even though neighborhoods are very close-knit around here and people are very friendly. When I approach, all people put their heads down. We’ve become invisible.


Translation of an article from Gazeta Wyborcza, a polish daily newspaper.

Translated by @poleinbelfast

Polish version by:  Ewa Winnicka 2014-07-10 http://www.wyborcza.pl

Don’t bring your party politics or agendas – let’s all unite against racism, whatever our differences!


  Let me start by sending a big thank you the organisers and all who attended the rally on Saturday 31 May. You were all great!

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According to PSNI sources, 4000 people have attended this impromptu rally to show their disapproval to racism and hate attacks in NI. When I started campaigning for people to show their support in the fight against racism, I never expected to see the likes of Amnesty International to approach me and help to organise the event we are all about to take part in. When I first came to this country from England, the first thing that struck me was how friendly and welcoming everyone was.

Some people who’ve lived here all their lives may disagree with me but, marching seasons excluded, this place is usually a very open, rainy patch of green land with people who are welcoming to all. Unfortunately, the last few months have shown a large increase in hate crime all around the province. PSNI statistics indicate 2-3 Hate Crimes are being reported daily, that’s a sharp 43% increase in such crimes.

We, migrants, have been subjected not only to real-life physical and psychological threats and violence, but on top of that many of us live in constant fear of attacks or retribution.

The entire muslim population was described in despicable words.
Two Pakistani men were brutally attacked on the streets and at their home.
Spanish man was shouted at and pushed around for 15 minutes and followed home. African refugees were assaulted in the QUB area.
A man was stabbed for not being a local.
A group of teenagers playing football was attacked for being foreign.
An MLA was verbally abused because of the colour of her skin.
Polish families had their windows and cars damaged.
A man in Lisburn was very badly beaten.
Excrements were thrown at a Romanian cyclist.

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I know of at least 10 families who are either strongly considering leaving or have already made plans to leave the province for the South or Britain. It is hard-breaking to see my friends who work for the NHS, BELB and many other public and private organisations make a hard decision to abandon their lives here because of fear and intimidation. I wish I could convince them to stay. NI/EIRE is or should be a place for everyone: migrants, locals, muslims, jews, christians and more. It shouldn’t matter if you’re straight or gay, black or white, prod or cat.

We’re all humans and we all fundamentally want to live our lives in peace and respect. This place, filled with loving and great people, can’t succumb to noisy and dangerous few who are bent on keeping NI in the middle-ages.

It’s time to shove this province from the 50’s into the XXI c.

This sort of #lazyracism just won’t do.

A big Thank You to everybody who is planning to attend the march!

Spread the word. Bring your friends, children, partners,  cats and dogs – the more the merrier! 🙂

Don’t bring your party politics or agendas – let’s all unite against racism, whatever our differences!


Messages Image(1615413780)Sources: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/two-racist-attacks-every-day-in-northern-irelands-racehate-crime-surge-30202329.html

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Finally, an apology! I expect to see you on the march 1st Minister!

The wait is over!

It only took a week to see the 1st Minister finally apologise publicly.

Not sure if he did it out of the kindness of his heart or had to eventually accept the growing pressure around him.

Some say, too late, you’ve had your chance.

I myself make mistakes all the time. Only today I had to apologise to a group of people for using a collective word for them not realising that it was offensive. I apologised immediately and hope they don’t hold a grudge.

Mr 1st Minister, show me, the muslim community and many other people that you are sincere in your apology. COME to the march on Saturday 7th of June, 2pm and join us in a common cause of stamping-out racism.

Don’t come as a DUP leader, but as a person who wants to see the end of  horrible violence which is eating away at this beautiful place.

I hope to see you there!

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EMERGENCY ANTI RACISM RALLY – multilingual @poleinbelfast


If you don’t like what’s been happening in Northern Ireland in the last few months with attacks on people, join the Emergency Anti-Racism Rally, Saturday 31 May, 2014 at 12 pm in front of the City Hall in Belfast.

Jeżeli jesteś zaniepokojony obecną sytuacją imigrantów w Irlandii Północnej, dołącz do nas na Nadzwyczajnym Wiecu Anty-Rasistowskim, w Sobotę 31 Maja, 2014 o godzinie 12 przed ratuszem City Hall w Belfaście.

Si no te gusta lo que está ocurriendo en Irlanda del Norte en los últimos meses, y te indigna que la gente este siendo atacada, te esperamos en la Marcha de Emergencia contra el Racismo, el sábado 31 de mayo 2014 a las 12 de la mañana frente al ayuntamiento City Hall, en Belfast.

Haddii aadan jeclaan waxa la dhacaya ee Northern Ireland ee dhowrkii bilood ee la soo dhaafay ay la weerarka on dadka, nagu soo biirto Rally Anti-Racism Degdegga ah, Saturday 31 May, 2014 at 12 pm hore ee City Hall ee Belfast.

Если вам не нравится, что в течение последних нескольких месяцев происходит в Северной Ирландии в отношении нападений на людей, присоединяйтесь к нам Emergency Anti-Racism Rally, в субботу 31 мая в 12 часов дня напротив  City Hall в Белфасте

Wenn Ihnen die Geschehnisse der letzten Monate in Nordirland  – insbesondere die Angriffe auf Menschen – nicht gefallen, dann machen Sie bei unserer Anti-Rassismus-Rallye mit! Wir erwarten Sie am Samstag (30. Mai 2014) um 12 Uhr vor dem City Hall in Belfast.

Si vous n’appréciez  pas des attaques sur les personnes  qui ont eu lieu ce dernier temps  en Irlande du Nord rejoignez la manifestation  contre racisme qui aura lieu le samedi 31 mai 2014 à 12h devant la mairie (City Hall) à Belfast.

Si no us agrada el que està passant a Irlanda del Nord en els últims mesos amb atacs a persones, unir-se a la manifestació contra el Racisme d’Emergència, el dissabte 31 de maig 2014 les 12 davant de l’ajuntament, a Belfast.

Če vam ni všeč, kaj se je dogajalo na Severnem Irskem v zadnjih mesecih z napadi na ljudi, pridružite v sili za boj proti rasizmu Rally, sobota 31. maj 2014 je ob 12. uri pred Mestno hišo v Belfastu.






We, migrants, have been subjected in recent month, not only to real-life physical and psychological threats and violence, but on top of that many of us live in constant fear of attacks or retribution.

The entire muslim population was described in despicable words.

Spanish man was shouted at and pushed around for 15 minutes and followed home.

African refugees were assaulted in the QUB area.

A man was stabbed for not being a local.

A group of teenagers playing football was attacked for being foreign.

Anna Lo was verbally abused because of the colour of her skin.

Polish families had their windows and cars damaged.

A man in Lisburn was very badly beaten.

Excrements were thrown at a Romanian cyclist.


This is only a short excerpt from a very long list, which grows by two attacks every single day.

I, personally, am too scared to reveal my real name, as I’ve received dubious messages online and my family isn’t happy for me to “come-out.”

Having people in position of power, who not only don’t respect it but out-right abuse it, can and possibly will exacerbate the already dire situation in NI.

NI/EIRE is or should be a place for everyone: migrants, locals, muslims, jews, christians and more. It shouldn’t matter if you’re straight or gay, black or white, prod or cat.

We’re all humans and we all fundamentally want to live our lives in peace and respect.

This place, filled with loving and great people, can’t succumb to noisy and dangerous few who are bent on keeping NI in the middle-ages.

It’s time to shove this province from the 50’s into the XXI c. This sort of #lazyracism just won’t do.

A big Thank You to the organisers and everybody who will attend this rally!

Spread the word.


You can join on Facebook for more info:


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They come ‘ere n take our votes! OR shambles during EU elections.


I’ve always been very keen on voting or participating in community-centred activities. I remember turning 18, getting my first ID and going to vote more or less around two weeks after my birthday… ’twas marvellous!

By sheer coincidence they actually happened to be EU elections. There I was, back in Kent – passport in hand – ready to change the world. It didn’t really matter much that the party  I was about to vote for wasn’t going to get any MEPs. Or did it?

Since then, I’ve voted in every – local, general, euro elections or by-elections. Sometimes in the UK, other times in Poland. I even had a chance to vote in Germany and Spain once.

Fast forward to Belfast, last Thursday, 22 May 2014.  I got up at 7 AM, attended to my morning ablutions ;P, had a quick bite and left my house in order to get to my local polling station and vote before going to work. I had everything I needed, or so I thought.  Official polling card – check.  Brand spanking new Electoral Identity Card – check. And most importantly my enthusiasm – check.

Upon entering the Church hall, temporarily converted into a polling station, I was greeted by a very friendly looking lady who asked me to present my ID and my polling card. She briefly looked for my name and when she was about to give me my ballot she noticed a letter G affixed to my name. She seemed a bit confused for a “wee” while, had a quick look around, noticed one of her colleagues and shouted: “Yeh know wha dat G stands for?” My smile was beginning to dissipate, with every passing second.

Because her colleague was unable to shed any light on the matter,  she looked back at me and asked where I was from. I replied that I was Polish. She looked at me blankly, studied my face and said that because of my nationality I wasn’t allowed to vote in the EU elections. I have to admit I was speechless for a second or two, but having recovered, I quickly made her aware that I had voted in the past without any problems and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed this year.

She didn’t offer me any more explanation, just said that I couldn’t.

Naturally, I asked to speak to someone else. Unfortunately, the man wasn’t of much help either. It all seemed a bit ad-hoc and not very well rehearsed, like a school production of Rent.  He had a quick look in his paperwork and concluded that the letter G means – no-can-do. Sory Gregory.

Now, every EU citizen is allowed to vote in both local and EU elections, wherever he happens to reside, as long as they’re registered to vote, which I was. It doesn’t matter if you’re British, Irish, Romanian, Slovakian, French or Maltese. I happen to be British and Polish, which I decided to mention to the guy who was trying to help me out. I even offered to produce my british passport should that be necessary, but was told it wouldn’t make any difference as I was registered for local elections only.

Yeah right! I refused to give in and asked to make a complaint.

I was quickly told to call an 0800 number, as they were not allowed to make any exceptions or resolve voting issues. I decided to do that, while staying in the polling station… Long story short, after 30 minutes and four different reasons as to why I couldn’t cast my vote, I was finally told that I should fill in a DC1 form. (EU voter registration document.)

I hung up and approached the person in charge and asked for the aforementioned form. He looked shocked, told me to wait and shuffled off with his phone. He was gone for about 10 minutes. I’m not usually a nervous person but having spent 45 minutes fighting about my right to vote and knowing that I was going to be late to work, the response that I got from the guy was the final straw. He told me that I should have filled the form back in April to declare that I definitely wouldn’t vote in any other EU country. Shouldn’t the lady, this guy and defo the EC operator know that, without an hour’s worth of detective work.  I might have told him what I thought about it, very politely of course, I took my phone and bruised ego outside, where I tweeted all about it to my amigos,  thinking it was all over.

Little did I know that many other people across the UK were having the exact same problems. Especially if they had an EU passport, doesn’t matter if they also had a British passport it seems. The EC assumed that 900,000 EU residents registered to vote in the UK will not be voting in EU elections where they reside, but rather will elect to vote in their member states.

Dobra, let me say that again. People were expected to vote in local elections in the UK then hop on a plane and cast their votes back in Naples. M to the O to the R to the O to the N to the I to the C.

As we can read in the Guardian in @sturdyalex article:


Petros Fassoulas, chair of European Movement UK, said: “It’s definitely not good to see so many EU citizens feel disenfranchised because they could not vote. EU citizens’ right to vote anywhere they live in the EU is a fundamental right and should not be compromised.”


The Electoral Commission … In a statement, it added: “It is clear that some EU citizens were unaware that they had to fill in the declaration form, and some have told us that they did not receive one from their electoral registration officer. We will be following this up in our post-election review and ensuring that electoral registration officers are aware that they must send this form.” The Guardian, A. Andreu and S. Malik


People had the right to vote in the UK,  but on top of registering to vote in the UK in local/national elections, they also had to register to vote in the UK in EU elections. I may be wrong but that’s called –  creating boundaries and needless bureaucracy.

On top of that, I was never informed that I had to re-register to vote in Belfast. Had I known that I would definitely have done that and would also let all my EU friends know all about it. I know of at least 100 people who were not allowed to vote, there’s bound to be more. Some did re-register but were still refused, some didn’t and were lucky enough to vote. I wasn’t. I strongly believe that this should be sorted.

Furthermore, I have no idea how to check how many people were not allowed to vote last Thursday but I would really like to know. Any ideas? Not only because I love democracy and voting, which I’ve done sin parar all my adult life, but also because my ballot and those of other EU citizens could have had an impact on what’s currently happening in Britain/Ireland and/or Europe. Nige, szczęściarzu.

(italics = All bits in italics are in other languages, they don’t normally bring much new info, only my spontaneous reactions)

Here are some links to a few articles: (I’ll add more later on)

Get involved – http://neweuropeans.net/article/297/european-commission-investigate-votedenied-complaints



Testing, 1,2,3

Let me start by offering a sincere apology for what is about to follow. I haven’t communicated anything longer than 140 characters in a very long time, so I sincerely doubt that my writing skills will have recovered sufficiently by the time I publish my next post to create anything half-interesting.

I’m in the process of writing a little blog-post about my experiences with voting or should I say not voting in last week’s European elections in the UK/Ireland.