Category: Ireland

Michael Collins is the new Noel Grealish (who is the new Peter Casey (etc. (etc.)))

This guy:

It’s like that episode of Father Ted, where the farmer shouts at the priest: “Should we all be racists now?”

There’s an election coming. Ireland has multi-seat constituencies. Candidates who appeal to fewer than 15% of their constituents regularly get elected. To parliament.

It all sounds great in theory. And then they discover that racism is a dog whistle for around…I don’t know…maybe 15% of the population.

Yikes.

Do we really have to have elections? (Asking for a friend.)

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What the alt-right are privately saying about their “important work” in Oughterard

Mainstream media in Ireland continue to report on the protests in Oughterard without referencing the involvement of leading hard-right/alt-right activists, who are quite clearly engaged in a national campaign of fear-mongering, rabble-rousing, and local-issue entryism.

I wrote before the weekend about the overlap between organisers of the public meeting in Oughterard and some well known alt-right Facebook groups. These groups continue to discuss their campaign — and vent their racism — in private. That said, not even so-called ‘closed’ Facebook groups are leak-proof, and several screenshots of their discussions have been emerging online.

Many of them have been posted on Twitter. What follows here is a small selection posted by @LeahNiD. Be sure to follow Leah for regular updates; she does some really amazing work. (In most cases, I have cropped the images and pixellated identifying details; you can click through for the originals.)

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Here, for example, an alt-right campaigner is seen congratulating their comrades for the “important work” they did in Oughterard, and encouraging them to now turn their attention to Kildare, where another Direct Provision centre is planned:

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Note: “…and other forms of migrant centres.” (Source: @LeahNiD)

As I mentioned on Friday, these alt-right activitists are not from Oughterard at all, but are nonetheless successfully promoting themselves as “local campaigners”.

They have even encouraged protesters in Oughterard to don yellow high-vis vests when protesting against the Direct Provision centre. I very much doubt that most people in the town are aware that high-vis vests are a favoured symbol of Ireland’s alt-right fascist movement.

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“Please wear Hi-Vis vest” (Source: @EamonnVIDF)

They have now changed the name of their Facebook group from ‘Stop Connemara Gateway Hotel Direct Provision Centre‘ to ‘Oughterard says NO to Inhumane Direct Provision centre.‘ This, presumably, is an opportunistic effort to hide behind mainstream concerns about the asylum system. The members include several prominent alt-right activists and persons affiliated with anti-immigration campaigns.

Among the group’s moderators is a prominent pro-life activist (not unusual for Ireland’s alt-right brigade) and a man named in media reports as a local organiser, but whose LinkedIn profile suggests is based in London.

This is him talking about how Brazilian migrants are different to African ones (spoiler: he believes they are good at soccer):

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Source: @LeahNiD

Remember, one of the alleged problems with the proposed Direct Provision centre is that it would put pressure on local services, such as schools and healthcare. Another is that claim that the Direct Provision system is “inhumane”.

However, remarks about how “nice” it would be to have Brazilian immigrants instead (or, for that matter, “Christians fleeing from ISIS“), show us that the anxieties here have little to do with the logistics of local services or the morality of the Direct Provision system.

(And as one Oughterard resident, a mathematics professor, has noted, Galway County Council recently announced a plan to build 157 houses just south of Oughterard, and a further 13 houses at Claremont, Oughterard. Neither of these developments provoked public meetings or protests about the risks of sudden local population growth.)

As I wrote on Friday, the people of Oughterard are being played. They are being manipulated and exploited by campaigners with some very unsavoury ulterior motives, who make explicit efforts to keep their true views hidden within private closed Facebook groups.

Views such as the following:

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Source: @LiahNiD

Here is another, largely along the same lines:

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Source: @LiahNiD

And another, although this one is considerably more concise:

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Source: @LiahNiD

Clearly, however, this group has always been conscious of the fact that uncensored racism is not a good look for a protest movement. In advance of Wednesday’s meeting, they discussed strategy. Here someone advises that the group should tone down its “negative volatile emotions” because “you will not win any argument on racist remarks

three xxx

Source: @LiahNiD

In other words, the line taken at Wednesday’s meeting was pre-planned, and calculated to deflect.

These people came to Oughterard to cause a specific kind of trouble.

They know what they are doing. And they’re good at it.

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That said, it should be no surprise that these folks choose to conduct their discussions in private, keeping their Facebook group ‘closed’ to the general public.

We should be thankful for people like @LiahNiD for exposing their activities.

But if these screenshots, and several others like them, are circulating on Twitter, then how come our mainstream media appear unaware of their existence? 

The people of Oughterard surely deserve better than this…

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Oughterard

[I ripped this audio file from a tweet by one of Ireland’s alt-right anti-immigrant underbelly accounts. I don’t feel obliged to give credit here. Fair usage etc. You can find it yourself.]

Ireland’s increasingly organised hard-right moron brigade have been wetting themselves silly since a meeting in Oughterard went viral yesterday, where one of my local members of parliament went along and opened his racist mouth.

The biggest irony is that the people who whipped up hysteria in Oughterard were themselves, in the Irish parlance, “blow-ins”.

Wednesday’s meeting was organised by known operatives — reactionary alt-right provocateurs — who have been doing this type of thing around the country. They are following a playbook used by fascists in Hungary, Russia, Italy, Turkey, even in the United States, where political speech is taken out of the mainstream and targetted at left-behind, largely non-metropolitan, communities. Fears are stoked, genies are released from bottles, and scapegoats are targetted.

Eamonn VIDF has posted an important thread outlining their activities. Please read it all:

The people of Oughterard have been played. The politician who made the racist speech has been played. He’s a patsy. A pawn. A gullible mouthpiece playing his part. And he sits in our parliament.

Ireland. We have a problem.

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Of course, that doesn’t mean that what this guy said should be ignored. His speech was replete with tropes and cliches, and is worth a takedown. We can all do with a playbook.

So here are the bones:

“Our Taoiseach [Prime Minister] three weeks ago said he’d take an extra two hundred, er, what they call ‘migrants’ from Africa…”

The people concerned are, in fact, asylum seekers, not migrants.

Wednesday’s meeting had been called because of an apparent government plan to refurbish a disused hotel in the village of Oughterard in order to provide asylum seeker accommodation. Calling asylum seekers “economic migrants” is, of course, an error of the deliberate kind.

The particular asylum seekers mentioned by the Taoiseach were a group of men, women and children rescued from the Mediterranean in August by the charities Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) and SOS Méditerranée, including babies as young as one year old.

“These are economic migrants.”

No. To repeat, they are quite clearly asylum seekers, not migrants.

“These are people who are coming over here from Africa to, er, to sponge off the system here in Ireland.”

No. Again. According to MSF, these people were fleeing the war in Libya, where they faced ill treatment, arbitrary detention, and torture. When rescued after getting into difficulties in the Mediterranean, they were suffering from severe dehydration and malnutrition. They don’t want to sponge off any system. They just want to be alive.

“I know people who I’ve brought all over the county of Galway trying to get housing for. They’re [waiting] seven, eight, nine, ten years…”

Ireland’s housing shortage has emerged largely because of prolonged economic policies that have failed to provide livable infrastructures and appropriate social safety nets during the past two decades.

Not least this was because of the inflationary policies pursued by this politician’s very own party during the pre-crash splurge years of the Celtic Tiger, a party whose policies he would surely be personally familiar with, given that he served as its Chairman and, for eight months, its Leader.

Apart from one parliamentary term, his own party was in Government from 1989 to 2011. Does he really think that if our nation’s roads, schools, health services and housing stock are all so poorly resourced, it’s because of asylum seekers?

“…Let the Minister know the fear — and it is the fear factor — that this is going to bring on this village. Because we don’t know. We don’t know these people that’s coming in.”

We do. We know that they are a small group of asylum seekers fleeing war and torture in Libya, most of whom are under the age of 18, some of whom are babies, who — while malnourished and dehydrated — were rescued from certain death at sea by a globally respected NGO. That’s “these people that’s coming in.”

“I can guarantee you. It’s not the persecuted Christians and Syrians coming here.”

Religion. Seriously?

At this point we can note that this politician campaigned (unsuccessfully) against the repeal of Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws last year, positioning himself firmly at the fringes of the country’s social policy culture. He was even one of a rump of Catholic fundamentalist parliamentarians who tried to block the referendum from being held in the first place, implying that he favours democracy except when it seems the majority might vote against him.

(Amusingly, the party he once chaired was called the “Progressive “Democrats“!)

As with many pro-life politicians, it seems this guy is all about protecting life when it is in the womb, but less interested when said life is running around rural Irish villages praying to the wrong god.

“It’s the people, the economic, er, refugees that’s coming in from Africa that’s trying to get across the Mediterranean and ended up in EU, and ended up in Ireland, and ended up in Oughterard, where you don’t have the schools, you don’t have the doctors.”

But if they were Christians fleeing from ISIS, the schools and doctors would then somehow be able to cope?

I’m beginning to think that the guy might not be making any sense.

“A big city, a major city can absorb three hundred refugees, but not a small town like Oughterard. So I’ll say one thing to everybody in this room here tonight: work together, stick together, and we will work with ye, and I want the politicians here to give that same commitment here tonight…”

But, er, he’s a politician.

“…that we will work to ensure that this does not happen, and it’d destroy the fabric of Oughterard.”

TL;DR: Keep the Africans out, at least the non-Christian ones. Because fear. And votes. Don’t forget to vote for me. Don’t you know there’s an election next year?

It is worth bearing in mind that already in Ireland, a number of hotels earmarked as asylum centres have been subject to middle-of-the-night arson attacks.

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Irish Times, Feb 2019

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The irony here should not be lost on the residents of Oughterard.

It is not asylum seekers who have come from outside, imposed themselves on their quiet village, caused disruption, intimidated the locals, and left people scared of their surroundings.

It is the alt-right agitators who have done so, the Facebook fascists, Ireland’s unapologetically racist keyboard warriors, the people for whom Nazi salutes are an appropriate insult to liberal snowflakes.

This is not an organic resistance to progressive values and a fair and equitable society. It is an organised one.

And it requires an organised response.

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>>Read next: What the alt-right are privately saying about their “important work” in Oughterard

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