Editorial – As extremists in Ireland and around the world network, what are the authorities here doing about it?

Last week the entire database of a neo-Nazi website was uploaded to the Internet Archive. The leak consisted of IP addresses, usernames, forum posts, and private messages between members of the now defunct Iron March forum. The forum itself was where Atomwaffen Division (AWD) formed in 2016 and presumably recruited adherents. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), as well as spewing racist invective, members of the terrorist group are connected to several murders.

In the leaks a number of Irish IP addresses have also been verified. Although the number of Irish user thus far discovered is small, it is unsurprising. The far right in Ireland has always existed. But it does point to the fact how easy it is for racists and neo-Nazis on either side of the Atlantic to network, offer advice, and support each other. 

It shows just how dangerous the current situation is that we find ourselves in. We have a visible and active far-right contingent in Ireland. And they have learned from their brethren in the US and Europe. Nothing good can come from this. 

In the meantime, hate speech and hate crimes continue to mount. As we reported recently, there has been a noticeable increase in online hate speech in Ireland. And the gardaí seem unwilling or unable to properly deal with it. Resources are lacking just as much as the law is. And that’s not to speak of the institutional racism which exists in the gardaí; where people are racially profiled on the basis of their apparent ethnic origin.

This leaves a sizeable gap in which the far right can operate. We see it most blatantly in election candidates who are attempting to link Ireland’s housing and homelessness crisis to immigration. We see it in the way that fears around asylum seekers are whipped up to further a white supremacist agenda. We see it in how anti-racism activists are specifically targeted because they happen to be a person of colour. All of this goes unpunished. 

The law has to rapidly catch up with how events are evolving. As things currently stand, our own far right are making good use of internet forums and social media to spread their hateful message and recruit followers. All the gardaí are doing for now is “monitoring” certain forums. But unless this monitoring ends up in prosecutions for hate crimes and hate speech it’s inconsequential. It’ll simply end up being a bureaucratic box-ticking exercise.

At the moment it seems that most of the work is left to activists and journalists to do something. This is far from an ideal situation as it puts them at extreme risk. Considering what we know about how the far right operates, talk quickly turns into action. And this makes the work of the aforementioned all the more dangerous. But it also it makes it all the more important. 

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – Inferno986return

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