Strangers in our Midst
Peillon, Michel (1998) Strangers in our Midst. In: UNSPECIFIED Institute of Public Administration, pp. 105-115.
In the late summer of 1998, a Tullamore doctor announced that he was offering a reward of Â£10,000 to trace the origin of rumours circulating about him in this small town in the Midlands. The rumours related to the unexplained disappearance of a young mother from the town. Not only was the doctor alleged to be involved in this disappearance, but all kinds of sinister crimes and practices were mentioned. The doctor's announcement hit the headlines and he was interviewed on the main television news programmes. When the image of this mild-mannered individual with his wife and children appeared on screen, the real issue in this episode became obvious. As an Eastern, Muslim family in the middle of a culturally homogeneous small town, they had been targeted by a campaign of nasty rumours. Whatever the motives or interests of those who started these rumours, a sufficient number of people were willing to believe or half believe this story, to carry it around and spread it, to uphold its plausibility within the collectivity. For a brief time, one glimpsed the uglier side of Irish provincial life.
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