The article quotes from a report in Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper and claimed that a Polish woman – using the pseudonym ‘Magda’ – has been speaking about living the good life in an unidentified Donegal town, while claiming unemployment and other benefits.
However, Poland’s Ambassador to Ireland Marcin Nawrot said in a letter to the Independent, which was made public this afternoon, that the article had been translated incorrectly from the original piece published last Sunday, and contains inaccuracies.
The front-page report in today’s Independent bears the headline “Welcome to good life on welfare – how Polish waitress embraced La Dole-ce Vita”.
However in his letter, Ambassador Nawrot said the authors of the Independent report use the facts presented in the Polish article in “a very selective and subjective manner”.
“The subject ‘Magda’ states in the Polish article: ‘I have a big problem with being unemployed, I don’t want to live at the State’s expense and for that reason I use this assistance to allow me start up my own business’,” Ambassador Nawrot wrote.
“I believe that this is the sentence that best summarises the context of the original article and it is decidedly unfortunate that it has been omitted in your article.”
He said the report – which describes the life of the 36-year-old woman on Irish welfare benefits – is potentially inflammatory and risks causing an anti-immigrant atmosphere.
“The decision to remain in Ireland that so many Polish people made in the recent years is a decision to make a valuable contribution to the Irish state by living and working here, integrating with the Irish society and being a part of it all in good times and bad,” he wrote.
“It’s impossible to imagine that this decision, sometimes a very painful one, is made on the basis of the level of unemployment benefit or other kinds of support granted to the jobless by the Irish State.”
The Independent article has been the subject of heated debate online and in national media today, as the subject is claimed to have described her life on Irish welfare as a “Hawaiian massage”.
However Ambassador Nawrot denied that this statement had been made in the original Polish article.
“What she actually says is that she has completed a FÁS course in Hawaiian Massage and that she’s planning to open a massage business next year,” the Ambassador wrote.
Meanwhile Donegal Labour Senator Jimmy Harte – who was contacted by the Independent about the article – said he wasn’t given the full story and he’d happily take his comments back if the article is wrong.
Senator Harte had told the Independent that ‘Magda’ was “doing an enormous disservice to the Polish community in Co Donegal”, and offered to pay for her flight home.