Inside the group chat of Ireland’s latest far-right political party – The Irish Times
Last month, Iris Oifigiúil, the government’s official gazette, published a brief notice from the Oireachtas Registrars of Political Parties.
“I hereby announce that I intend to approve the application for inscription on the Irish Political Party Register first,” the official said, officially launching the country’s youngest far-right political party.
The announcement meant that Ireland First, which gives its address as Irishtown, Tullaghan, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, had met the conditions of having 300 registered members, a basic constitution and a name which, despite being registered, was not “obscene or offensive”. is being contested by the Hope and Courage Collective, formerly known as the Far Right Observatory, which has appealed to Art O’Leary, the Registrar of Political Parties at the Electoral Commission.
The new party is the vehicle of Derek Blighe, who has become one of the country’s most prominent anti-immigration activists. For the past year, the Corkman, who once lived in Canada as an immigrant, has toured the country organizing protests against asylum seekers and refugee shelters, filming videos for his growing base of followers and calling for donations to his cause.
Now Blighe, along with his brother Tommy Murphy, is trying to channel that notoriety into electoral success on the national stage.
Shortly after applying for official status, Ireland First sent an email to its members stating that “we will be looking for candidates across Ireland over the next few months”. Special e-mail addresses have been set up for those wishing to stand as candidates in local elections and for those seeking Dáil office.
“Note that it is advisable to stand in local elections even if you intend or intend to represent Ireland at state level first,” advised party secretary Sarah Herraty in an email.
Members also received a packet of documents to share with others. These included a leaflet warning of a global “pandemic treaty” that will allow the World Health Organization to take over Ireland and a copy of the 2015 Constitution (which includes the marriage equality amendment but repeals the Eighth Amendment on abortion omits). ).
At first glance, many of Ireland First’s policies appear more conservative than extreme. For example, immigration and refugees should be allowed, but in a controlled way, they say. It says it’s not anti-LGBT or anti-trans, but there should be a line on how these issues are taught in schools.
“We are NOT against immigration!” A policy document states. “As human beings, it is our moral obligation to help those in need who are fleeing war.”
The party wants a “proper referendum” – a public vote on a non-constitutional issue related to migration. She emphasizes that “this has nothing to do with prejudice”.
However, a private, invitation-only Ireland First Telegram group paints a much darker picture of the party’s priorities.
The Irish Times reviewed thousands of messages from the group over the past month, many showing overt racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and sometimes incitement to violence. There is no evidence that any of these views are sanctioned or criticized by the party leadership, which is also active in the group chat.
Much of the discourse between the group’s 142 members concerns strategy, as well as the organization of protests, meetings and the occasional social event. Members discuss plans to trend keywords on social media and influence the conversation around the far right.
A member proposes a plan for a viral messaging campaign to promote the claim that the idea of an Irish far right is as much a myth as leprechauns and four-leaf clovers. “We could take all the power out of their magic words, and folks… make no mistake, words like far right are literal charms.”
Another woman criticized singer Christy Moore for appearing at a recent anti-racism event and described her attempts to Instagram actor Brendan Gleeson to ask him to march with the members of Ireland First. “I told him I could support him, but I couldn’t afford the fee, etc etc.”
Gleeson does not have an Instagram account. He was publicly praised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for being one of the “incredible performers” who wore refugee ribbons at the recent Bafta awards ceremonies in London: “Your support for refugees and displaced people everywhere means the world,” , said the UN body.
The 160 c**ts have to be towed out of the Dáil
— Member of Ireland First Telegram private group, in relation to TDs
Another in the private Ireland First Telegram group discussed the value of involving the farming community in their movement: “Irish farmers could topple the government.”
The private setting of the group means members like to speak freely. Asylum seekers are referred to as “scumbags” and Ukrainian refugees as “invading fuckers”.
“Essentially we are dealing with the jungle… and its animals,” wrote one user.
Some members spoke out against far-right Tommy Robinson’s visit to Ireland last month, accusing him of fragmenting the anti-immigration movement here. “Next, we clarify that the Jew is not wanted,” one user said in reference to Robinson.
A post shared in the group laments the number of black models in a German fashion magazine and says: “Hitler did nothing wrong.”
Conspiracies abound over Covid – one member wondered if football commentator John Motson, 77, was ‘stabbed’ before his death last month. Hatred of the ruling parties is another consistent theme, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar being referred to as “gay Indians” by another member. But the most reviled party is Sinn Féin. “There’s more hate against them than anyone else combined!” said a member named SJD.
Movement needs guns and men and all the protests in the world will not save us
— Member of Ireland First Telegram private group
Some members are also not above using explicitly violent language. “The 160 c**ts must be pulled from the Dáil,” one wrote in reference to TDs.
“I wonder what color the brain will churn if they get a bullet in?” asked one member, upset that a bridge in Dublin was lit up in Ukrainian colors. Another said a recent anti-racism march should have been “carpet bombed”.
Another member said the movement “needs guns and men” and that “all the protests in the world will not save us”.
A short time later, a user said to other members: “The Irish were good at partisan warfare. If you can’t win with protests, consider guerrilla warfare.”
Whether these feelings reflect the majority opinion of the party is not clear. Publicly, the Blighe brothers are focused on gaining electoral gains and establishing Ireland First as the sensible conservative party on immigration restrictions.
By making immigration its defining issue, Ireland First, which has not responded to inquiries about this article, joins the ranks of other registered far-right parties such as the National Party and the Irish Freedom Party, neither of which have ever put forward a candidate Place has established or national level.
It is also not clear how sophisticated Ireland First’s voting strategy is. An email warns potential candidates that local elections will be held in May 2023 and national elections in 2024. (The next local elections are not scheduled until 2024, while the current Dáil term runs until March 2025.)