‘Inquiries ongoing’ after Síol na hÉireann stages protest outside Ballyhaunis Islamic Centre

A photo of Síol na hÉireann members and their leader, Niall McConnell, outside Cork city library.

Gardaí are investigating after far-right group Síol na hÉireann staged a protest outside an Islamic Centre in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo. Led by Donegal man Niall McConnell, the group regularly promotes conspiracy theories around immigration and the Jewish and Islamic religions. 

McConnell ran as an independent candidate in the 2020 general election. He received 580 first-preference votes. 

Islamophobia

Síol na hÉireann and McConnell protested outside the Ballyhaunis Islamic Centre on 17 October. McConnell posted about the protest on the group’s Telegram page. He described the protest as a “stand against Sharia Law in all it’s [sic] forms”. And he went on to say that him and his group “cannot accept a Sharia plantation in Ireland”. 

In a photo McConnell posted on the group’s Telegram page, he and his group can be seen standing in front of a banner which reads “No Sharia in Ireland: Make Ireland Catholic Again”. 

A spokesperson for the gardaí told The Beacon that it had received a report about the protest. And, as a result, “Inquiries are ongoing”.

Dialogue

The Beacon also contacted the Islamic Foundation of Ireland (IFI) about Síol na Éireann’s protest. According to its website the IFI is “the official representative of Muslims in Ireland”. As part of its work it “looks after the religious, educational and social needs of Muslims in Ireland”. 

In response to our query a spokesperson for the IFI quoted a verse of the Quran, writing:

O People! Behold. We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware.

The spokesperson went on to say that “Dialogue is often the means to creating a tolerant and understanding society”. And that this is “the best way to get to know one another”. 

Conspiracies and fundraising 

In July The Beacon revealed that Síol na hÉireann is not registered as a political party. Instead, it is registered a private, for-profit company with McConnell as its director. It was also revealed that the group may be in breach of legislation regarding donations received for political purposes. 

The group’s leader regularly promotes conspiracy theories, such as the “Great Replacement”. And he has spoken of a Zionist elite intent on destroying European nationalism.

During a meeting in the EU Parliament earlier this year he told those in attendance that a “Zionist elite” are importing “jihadi Islamists” into Europe. McConnell said this is part of a war on nationalists such as himself and considers it a “holy crusade”. 

McConnell’s group has also been confronted by anti-racism activists. In July members of the Cork Branch of the Connolly Youth Movement (CYM) stopped the group from setting up a stall in Cork.

In a video of the incident, a Síol na hÉireann supporter could be heard telling a member of CYM that he would “tear the fucking head off you and throw the head on the floor”.

Featured image via YouTube – Screenshot


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