Editorial – There’s nothing grand about a coalition that won’t challenge the status quo

With the election results in and a left-wing coalition seemingly further away than ever, it appears that we’re in for more of the same. A so-called “grand coalition”  appears to be impending. Consisting of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and possibly the Green Party, it is being put together in hopes of keeping out Sinn Féin. It’s also imperative that a second election is avoided at all costs; an election which would undoubtedly see Sinn Féin take even more seats at the expense of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. What was once apparently beyond the power of both parties for the last decade will now be promised as policy. 

The reality is that both parties realise they have lost massive amounts of support. Their continued relevance depends on their ability to deliver what people need; homes and healthcare. So expect some tokenistic gestures in this regard. But institutional change will not come. That’s because both parties are neoliberal stalwarts. The Green Party will, in a repeat of history, be the window dressing for the status quo of the upward transfer of wealth. 

Considering the scale of the damage already done to Irish society by the policies of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over the last decade, it’s hard to imagine just how hellish another decade of their policies would be. Massive homelessness due to nationwide evictions by vulture funds, a privatised health service as the public system has completely collapsed, and a society rampant with racism as the population looks for someone to blame will be the norm. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will gladly let someone else take the fall for their policies. After all, that’s just politics. 

For now, far-right candidates have failed to get much traction in successive elections, with the exception of Peter Casey in the 2018 presidential race. But racism is festering in Ireland. It can be especially seen online. 

Social media has become a force multiplier for hate. Anonymous accounts push narratives about asylum seekers being given preferential treatment over “native Irish” when it comes to housing and health. This talking point is also picked up on and promoted by far-right influencers. And it then makes it way into protest groups, either from the beginning or once the movement has organised and started to act.

In Dublin a group of people have formed a group called “House the Irish First”. They are dismayed that some of the 65 social homes currently being constructed in Mulhuddart will apparently be used to house “non-national families who are not from the area”. As a result, they have blocked access to the building site with work on the homes having come to a standstill for the last three weeks. This is not a race issue according to the group. Instead, it is simply about homes for Irish people in the area. 

A quick look at the Facebook group for the movement shows otherwise. Links to questionable websites, such as the Voice of Europe, which promotes anti-migrant stories, can be found. Posts by Irish far-right activists, including posts by the National Party, are shared to the group. And posts and comments linking migrants to sexual assaults and crime are shared. If the group wasn’t founded based on racist scaremongering then something has clearly gone astray since then. 

Another five years of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will only add to the cauldron of racism that has started to boil over. They will do nothing — or next to nothing — to alleviate the root cause of all of this. Economic and social equality are not their bedfellows. The weakest suffer as they must and the strong and wealthy do as they want. In this situation, minorities are easy targets for people angry at the system which has left them wanting and who themselves are being guided in the background by far-right ideologues. 

This far-right infiltration has been going on for less than two years. A Dáil led by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael all but ensures that the far right will make further inroads in the coming years. How could it not? The kind of inequality that these two parties have created is a breeding ground for racism. As if the destruction they’ve already wrought wasn’t enough.

Featured image via Flickr – Houses of the Oireachtas