The mainstream media in Ireland has failed. It has failed to call out the far right. It has failed to hold it to account. And it has failed to report on its rise. There are some possible reasons for this.
First, it may believe that the far right in Ireland is merely nascent and therefore not a threat. As a result, dedicating precious column inches to reporting on, in its eyes, a non-story simply won’t happen.
This is dangerously wrong. Given what we’ve seen over the last year the far right is a threat. The Irish promoters of the ideology not only attract diehard racists and fascists but also attract those discontented with mainstream politics. Members of this latter group may not be the shock troops of the far right, but they do make up a sizeable part of its voting bloc. And it is a bloc we would do well not to ignore.
Secondly, there’s the aspect of the mainstream media which, in fact, has given succour to the far right along with arch conservatives whose members overlap with the former. It has come in form of those precious column inches and coverage.
Peter Casey is given a platform on Newstalk. David Quinn, along with his co-patron of the deeply conservative and antediluvian Iona, Breda O’Brien, rail against the perceived excesses of our liberal, non-religious society in major newspapers.
The mainstream media is not likely to call out those who use its various platforms and drive viewers, listeners, and readers its way. Meanwhile those slightly to the left of centre, or even remotely outside the acceptable political norms, such as Sinn Féin, struggle to have their voices heard.
There are some minor exceptions to this lack of reporting by the mainstream media. Individual journalists here and there have had bits and pieces published in the press. Michael Clifford in the Irish Examiner is a case in point here, as is Village magazine’s, albeit flawed, calling out of Gemma O’Doherty in its most recent issue.
But there has been no wider investigation into the background of the far right in Ireland; who they are and what they believe. No mapping of their online groups and websites has been carried out. And there has definitely been no discussion of ways of fighting the far right. Instead, it’s mostly been a case of out of sight and out of mind.
But the far right is here. It’s incipient yet dangerous. And the mainstream media is failing us. It can ignore the rising hatred all it wants. The bile will continue to grow and fester until it becomes a potentially fatal sickness in our society. And by the time it realises this it’ll be too late.
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