Ireland 2019. A schizophrenic country, still struggling to find its true identity in the modern world. The recent introductions of same-sex marriage equality and abortion services for Irish women show our progressive side, a side that steadfastly refuses to be beholden to the Taliban of the Catholic Church any longer.
Sadly, yet encouragingly, these changes are driven by the will of the decent people of Ireland. Whilst our Government kowtows to the menace of vulture-funds and professional landlords, more and more ordinary citizens are being left behind. Homelessness is increasing and young people are trapped between renting or saving for a home of their own. Where there are genuine grievances and struggles in society, there are malign groups intent on exploiting these. Vigilance is paramount.
The most damning evidence of this malignancy can be found outside the headquarters of Google in Dublin. For the past month, since YouTube permanently banned Gemma O’Doherty from their platform for repeated violations of their policies on hate speech and multiple accounts, she and a ragtag band of neo-Nazis have taken root, spreading anti-immigrant and extremist rhetoric.
It’s the usual gibberish: nonsense about the “Great Replacement” theory, cultural Marxism, the decimation of “Irish Culture” and so forth. All of it unoriginal and 100% of it nonsense. However, just because some of us know how ridiculous and dangerous all of this rhetoric is, doesn’t mean that the wider society in Ireland doesn’t.
Whilst Gemma and her ilk attempt to legitimise themselves via a pretend political party called Anti-Corruption Ireland (ACI), the potential for those marginalised or suffering in our society to be sucked into their belief system remains high. It’s happening all over the world and we, ourselves, are not immune to this.
Luckily, because we’re a relatively young nation in global terms, we still possess a strong rebellious and, dare I say it, progressive streak. 800 years of oppression by a once powerful nation across the Irish Sea means we have an inbred resilience to forces and ideas which are not for the common good. Indeed, we can see our once powerful oppressor suffering under the yoke of far-right nationalism via Brexit and think to ourselves, “that shite ain’t happening here. Not on our watch”.
Gemma, Leo Sherlock, Justin Barret, Hermann Kelly and their followers may be small in number but, like a crack in the dam, the problem needs fixing before something disastrous happens. You don’t defeat fascism by sitting on your hands.
That is why the SpeakersUnicorner event in Dublin last Saturday was vitally important. The aim was two-fold. Firstly to show the altright dregs that the good people of Ireland will, and always will, stand up to their bollixology and fight it with kindness, humour and courage. Secondly, as evidenced by the many supporters and attendees of the Irish ethnic communities, that the good, decent and empathetic people of this country, fully support the integration of immigrants and asylum seekers into our society. We have their backs.
What we’re up against was on full display on Saturday. We were confronted by supposed “Irish Patriots”, draped in Tricolours yet dressed in the traditional hardman garb reminiscent of The English Defense League and Britain First. As some wag beside me put it, “it’s like Sports Direct was having a sale that morning”. These were the sort of blackguards you often see parading after Tommy Robinson on the BBC news.
A small part of me almost felt sorry for the poor chaps. To blindly follow grifters like the Tan Torino and Gemma, owner of the most irritating voice in Ireland since Bosco, shows a depressing lack of ambition in life. Rats beguiled by the Pied Pipers of Hate. Aye, my empathy didn’t last too long, especially after at least 3 of their number broke out the Nazi salutes. You dug your hole lads now feel free to stay in it.
The aim of Saturday is not to convert these goons into being decent people. They’re not going to change. Ultimately it is to let everyone in Ireland know that kindness, compassion and love will not allow the far-right disease spread by Trump, Putin, Orban, Farage and Johnson etc to take root on our soil.
What was disappointing, and shows evidence of the hard work that lies ahead, was the coverage of the Irish Times and RTE etc of the event. It reeked of “bothside-ism”. That somehow we were on the opposite sides of a secondary school debate, that we both had valid points to make. The occasion was described as “tense”. I’m pretty sure that’s the first time disco-dancing was ever described as tense.
Whilst the Gardai did an admirable and professional job in preventing the Nazis from attacking the Unicorners, questions need to be asked why they or the government have so far refused to remove Gemma and her Goonies from Barrow Street. It’s not like Gemma or Justin Barrett have been subtle in the words and language they’ve used. Hell, even 2 of the Nazis on display had been on YouTube recently demonstrating how to make weapons at home. Will it take an attack on a protestor or immigrant before something is done?
These are important questions to be answered. And until Gemma and her cronies are effectively and actively dealt with by the proper authorities in Ireland, Speakers Unicorner will not go away. Our numbers will grow and out voices will get louder. We are the medicine for Ireland’s schizophrenia. We will help make Ireland a beacon of hope in this weary world.