Una Mullally: Far-right ideology is entering mainstream politics in Ireland

Alarm bells are ringing, and we must stop downplaying and appeasing this shift

November 12th, 2019: Noel Grealish TD has been called "racist" and "a disgrace" by fellow TDs after he asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar if the government was ensuring that all money transferred out of Ireland to non-EU countries was being properly taxed. Video: Oireachtas TV

If it’s not a pattern, it’s certainly a coalescence. Far-right beliefs, rhetoric and politics are sporadically entering mainstream politics in Ireland, so now it’s about recognising that, dealing with it, and figuring out how mainstream politics and society can equip itself against such threats to decency, civility and democracy. 

In recent weeks we have seen a Fine Gael byelection candidate peddle a conspiracy theory that Isis is “a big part of the migrant population” in Ireland. We have seen the Taoiseach abandon compassion, context and cop-on when it comes to asylum seekers in the direct provision system saying they “can leave at any time”, as well as homing in on people coming to Ireland from two countries in particular, saying there are “a lot of people from Georgia and Albania coming in with fake documents, and that is a big driver of the increase”. We have heard Independent TD Noel Grealish, who often votes with the Government in the Dáil, saying there are “people coming over here from Africa” in relation to migrants “to sponge off the system here in Ireland”, and then using his platform in the Dáil to “highlight” inaccurate figures regarding money being sent from Ireland to Nigeria, singling out that country for reasons only he knows. We have also seen a Fianna Fáil politician, Lorraine Clifford-Lee, criticised for using slurs against Travellers on social media before she became a Senator.

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