Germany’s deradicalisation programmes have had some success. Do we need them in Ireland?

A photo of the logo for Exit Germany.

Besides exposing, deplatforming and publicly opposing their rallies, an often overlooked but crucial part of dealing with the far right is deradicalisation. As of now now there is no such service available in Ireland, but experts have called for its introduction.

Deradicalisation programmes do exist in other countries though, like Exit in Sweden and Germany.

The first steps

Exit Germany was founded in 2000 by a trio comprising a criminologist, a former police detective, and a former leading figure in the neo-Nazi scene.

If an individual decides to leave their far-right circles they can contact Exit by email, phone, text message, or post. This includes prison inmates, whom members of Exit will visit if possible to get the process underway.

A face-to-face conversation is generally the first step once contact is made. The focus then is first and foremost on security. Leaving the far right can be quite dangerous; comparable to leaving a cult.

As a result, Exit conducts an individual danger analysis and develops security measures specifically tailored for the person in question. This includes data protection methods, physical security procedures, and supporting the individual in accessing the relevant public support services.

Breaking patterns 

Once the physical safety of the individual is secured the focus shifts to reprocessing, where they will work with the individual on overcoming their far-right ideologies, and thought patterns, by working through their past activities. They even deal with crimes the person might have committed in the past. 

The final step is reintegration. Together with Exit the person will develop new life-strategies and outlooks, and set new educational and professional goals.

Exit Germany has successfully helped more than 500 people in leaving their neo-Nazi and far-right groups and circles.

The organisation receives government funding, which covers its basic costs. But a lot of its work relies on donations, which can be made via PayPal.

An Irish Exit?

There has been a noticeable increase in the presence of far-right voices in Ireland in the last two years. We’ve seen the emergence of protests against the possible housing of asylum seekers in towns across Ireland as well as “free speech” rallies aimed at protesting the proposed introduction of hate speech laws. 

Exit could offer a template that experts here can follow. Because the far-right problem we’ve seen grow is not going away any time soon. 

Featured image via Wikipedia – Frank Murmann