Serpents Using Immigration Loopholes to Sneak Back Into Ireland
Ireland's economic boom during the 1990s brought unprecedented levels of prosperity and helped transform it into a "country of immigration." For the first time in its history, Ireland experienced a significant inflow of migrants from outside the European Union (EU). To the country's surprise, however, tucked in among the flood of applications from prospective workers and asylum seekers, there has been a steady trickle of applications from an unexpected demographic: snakes.
"Frankly we've been understaffed for a long time," said Mary Cusack of the Irish Immigration Bureau. "With hundreds of applications to go through a week, you can miss the occasional reptile - especially if they use their Latin names. Who on earth knew that a Crotalus adamanteus is some kind of rattlesnake? I thought he was from Croatia, maybe."
Ireland has been famously snake-free for centuries, supposedly because the 5th century missionary Saint Patrick drove them out. While snakes have periodically been reintroduced to the island, most notably by the English, they have never gained a foothold and for all practical purposes Ireland has remained snake-free.
"Well, George III did make a really concerted effort to import boatloads of English grass snakes to Ireland following the Act of Union in 1801," said Merton Stoddwyck, professor of history at Cambridge University. "It is one of the reasons there is so much historical resentment between the Irish and English. However, it turned out there was a shortage of volunteers to open the crates full of snakes once they got to Ireland."
Ireland's ecosystem has been snake-free for so long that native fauna would be seriously ill-equipped to cope with snakes, and in a recent study, most Irish were unable to identify a snake upon sight, calling them "strange wiggly bits of rope."
"I thought it was a garden hose goin' down the street, or maybe a really skinny dog," said Brian Rourke, a resident of Cork. "Then the authorities tell me it was somethin' called a "cobra." I said, well how about that. Not every day you see a cobra in Cork, now is it. I bet the kids would love to go get a close look if it comes through again."
To respond to this new and rapidly growing phenomenon, serpent-related immigration policies had to be developed in a very short period of time. Special doors were installed at all airports 2 inches tall; the government is deporting anyone who chooses this door, but most serpents are wise to the ruse now. In addition, the government tried to push a national "refrigeration referendum" requiring all prospective immigrants to spend 6 hours in a sub-zero freezer in order to weed out any serpents, but this referendum failed in June 2004 because of the expense involved.
"Hard as it may be to contemplate, we may need to consider some long-term adjustments to our society," said Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell. "It will be a hard transition, but we're part of the EU now, and serpents are just a part of EU life, it seems."
Not everyone agrees with McDowell's stance, however.
"Do you know how hard I worked to clear out the place?" said Saint Patrick in a press release through the Vatican. "Don't make me come down there again!"