Star rating: 3/5.
Paul Michael Garrett, The Policy Press
ISBN: 1861344112, £23.50
I look forward to reading anything by Paul Michael Garrett
because he writes with attitude. His insistent, slightly angry but
always well-informed arguments draw attention to issues that the
rest of us are content to skim over – in this case the failure of
social work to engage in an anti-oppressive fashion with the Irish
experience in Britain, writes John Pinkerton.
There are two parts to the book. The first reveals a shameful
history from the 1950s and 1960s of unmarried mothers being
exported from the Irish Republic to Britain and in some cases the
mothers and children later being separately repatriated.
That hidden history of institutionalised abuse is then linked to
the equally hidden Irish experience within theory, policy and
practice today. That omission is demonstrated through findings from
a survey of social services departments in England and Wales and a
set of in-depth qualitative interviews with eight Irish front-line
family and child care workers in London.
The full sweep of Garrett’s argument may not be sufficiently
supported by the material he presents, but through the Irish
experience he usefully shows the need to base all anti-racist and
anti-oppressive practice on a much more complex, fluid and dynamic
understanding of identity than has tended to be the case to
John Pinkerton is head of the School of Social Work,
Queens University Belfast.