ESPN’s portrait of a gang-infested Dublin attracts bemusement in Ireland

Wright Thompsons longform profile of Dublin as a clannish, parochial place has been ridiculed in Ireland

In his longform article on the UFC star Conor McGregors roots in the Dublin suburb of Crumlin, ESPNs Wright Thompson paints a grim picture of the city. Drug dealers hang out on street corners. Bodies pile up as gangs fight for turf. Beatings are administered merely for being on the wrong street at the wrong time, and young lovers are afraid to walk the streets for fear of straying into the wrong territory.

Its a chilling and evocative portrait from a very fine writer. The only problem is that Dublins actual inhabitants dont appear to recognise the city in question.

McGregors childhood upbringing in the projects of Crumlin and Drimnagh suggests he was brought up in the Gaza Strip or 1920s Chicago, not a neighbourhood in which this writer lived for six happy and peaceful years, oblivious to the grenades whizzing by, or the fact that I should have been taking an armed escort whenever I had to cross the Liffey, wrote Jennifer OConnell in the Irish Times.

Rick O’Shea (@rickoshea)

Dear @espn. I grew up in both the “projects” *ahem* of Crumlin and Drimnagh. This is lazy stereotyping bullshit of the highest order…

August 8, 2017

On Twitter, Dubliners, while acknowledging Crumlin has its problems, were similarly dubious about Thompsons depiction. The RTE radio presenter Rick OShea, who grew up in the area, was particularly withering. I grew up in both the projects *ahem* of Crumlin and Drimnagh. This is lazy stereotyping bullshit of the highest order … Dave Hannigan suggested international intervention was needed to resolve the problem: Any word of the United Nations announcement about sending peacekeepers into Crumlin Road to separate the warring factions of troubled Dublin, he wrote.

In an appearance on ESPN after the articles publication, Thompson once again spoke about McGregors tough upbringing.

I think seeing these tough guys in the neighbourhood who were alpha dogs suddenly afraid and unable to leave their house [because of a gang war], for Conor and his group of friends, it was very eye-opening, he said. As we talked leading up to this fight … I think he wanted something different than the blue-collar life of his father and he didnt want to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life.

This is not the first time that US medias depiction of the supposed dangers of life in Europe have attracted ridicule. In 2015, a Fox News commentator claimed: There are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply dont go in. And, parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesnt dress according to religious Muslim attire.

The commentator went on to apologise for having made this comment about the beautiful city of Birmingham.


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