Far-right, anti-vaccination extremists have vowed to step up their campaign of targeting politicians and public figures. In a video posted to social media earlier this week, Dara O’Flaherty, one of the increasingly visible group, announced that he and his fellow zealots would be holding a “public enquiry” into the handling of the pandemic. He warned that those believed to be part of the COVID-19 conspiracy would be targeted at their homes, places of work, and schools. And that their friends and families would also be targeted.
In recent weeks far-right protestors have begun to target the homes of politicians and public figures. Last week a small group of protestors gathered outside the home of Dr. Tony Holohan. Some of those in attendance could be heard accusing the doctor of being involved in covering up child abuse.
The Galway man uploaded the video to his Facebook page on Monday, 4 October. In it he reveals that he and other far-right, anti-vaccination activists have been working on organising a “public enquiry” to hold to account those they believe are responsible for crimes committed against the Irish people during the pandemic. The list of targets includes health officials, politicians, and members of the media.
O’Flaherty says their plan is to gather on public spaces “in front of the suspected criminal’s home, school, or place of business”. Going on, he says:
Wherever we think that we might find this person that we want to question, that’s where we will be.
He goes on to tell viewers that the answers sought will be given “or we will return for the answers”. And that they’ll continue to return as more questions are raised. The Galway native notes that those who wish to cooperate can do so “by letter”. But, if they don’t, O’Flaherty informs them
we will be coming to your house. We will be coming to your place of business. And we will be coming to your schools or colleges.
The far-right activist goes on to warn his targets “We are not going away”. And even if the leaders of the proposed enquiry are put in jail or their targets hide,
We will go to your wife’s place of business. We’ll go to your husband’s place of business. When you think that they can hide from us I’ll go to your parents’ house. I’ll go to your uncle’s house. I’ll go to your best friend’s house. I will go through your community until I get the answers that I require and the Irish public require.
He finished off his announcement by stating “There’s no hiding from us”. And targets will be given notice that “we’re coming”.
In a follow-up post O’Flaherty wrote that if an offence carried out by any of the proposed targets carries a sentence of five years or more, “any citizen has the right to pursue you and use what ever force necessary to subdue you even in your family home”.
Along with fellow conspiracy theorists and extremists, O’Flaherty was in attendance at protests outside the home of tánaiste Leo Varadkar in recent weeks. At one such demonstration a protestor was filmed making homophobic comments about Varadkar and implying he’s engaged in paedophilia.
In response to a request from The Beacon a garda spokesperson said “we can’t comment on named individuals”. But the Press Office later followed up on its initial statement. It told The Beacon although it couldn’t discuss remarks or “unverified material” posted on social media it commented that:
An Garda Síochána considers any suggestion in respect of the threat to use violence and/or perpetration of violence or intimidation in any general sense or against named individuals or organisations as a matter of serious concern and could potentially be subject to criminal investigation in respect of such matters.
Aggression and arrests
O’Flaherty has been a regular fixture of far-right protests over the last two years. Despite claims from the organisers of these rallies that they’re non-violent the Galway-based extremist has a history of aggression and of at least four arrests.
In March 2020 a judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest. O’Flaherty had been charged with being drunk in public as well as being abusive or threatening to gardaí. While being arrested O’Flaherty shouted at the arresting gardaí in “I’m going to kill you and your family”. He also attempted to spit on the gardaí a number of times. O’Flaherty was absent during the hearing in Galway District court which convicted him on the charges. As a result Judge Mary Fahy issued a warrant for his arrest in order that he be brought for sentencing.
He was arrested in January this year alongside a fellow anti-vaccination campaigner, David O’Reilly for trespassing on the grounds of University Hospital Galway.
Gardaí arrested him again in March this year after he breached security at the Dáil. According to a report in the Independent, O’Flaherty was charged with trespassing, failing to give his name and address, as well as threatening and abusive behaviour. During his arrest he called arresting gardaí “fucking Nazis” and threatened to sue them in the High Court. A judge granted him bail on the condition that he stay away from government buildings and “avoid any anti-lockdown or anti-mask protest”.
More recently gardaí arrested him yet again outside the Australian embassy on 29 September. Alongside a number of far-right and anti-lockdown activists, O’Flaherty was protesting outside the embassy against the lockdown restrictions in Australia. Gardaí ordered him to remove a banner hanging on the embassy’s railings when he appeared to then run into the hall of the embassy. Gardaí immediately arrested him as he demanded to know the reason for his arrest. After a short hearing in the Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) O’Flaherty was released. In a video uploaded later that evening he claimed his arrest was “bogus”.
Targeting migrants and the left
But O’Flaherty also appears to have held his views longer than is widely known.
As far back as 2016 he was posting on his Facebook profile about the supposed dangers of migration. He wrote that the government was paying for migrants to come to Ireland so they “can boom and then we’re gone”. Such views are taken directly from the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory. It asserts that world governments, along with global elites, are involved in a form of population replacement by encouraging migration to the West from the Global South.
In the 2020 general election he ran as an independent “Patriotic Anti-Corruption Candidate” in the Galway West constituency. One of his campaign promises was to reduce immigration to Ireland which he stated was causing public services and the tax base to become “overburdened”. O’Flaherty claimed that the current level of immigration “will damage Irelands [sic] heritage”.
During the run-up to the election alt-right website Gript profiled candidate O’Flaherty. In the piece Tim Jackson, previously of Youth Defence fame, described him as “tearing up the script” in the upcoming election. O’Flaherty, he wrote, has “passion” in his voice. Jackson also reprinted his claims about the “Islamification” of Ireland as well as his argument that immigration to Ireland should be curtailed.
Later that year the Galway native argued that those in favour of abortion “promote promiscuity”. During the social media tirade he accused trans activists of being engaged in “genital mutilation of perfectly healthy children”. And he wrote that left-wing activists are “scumbag psychopath lefty lunatic freaks”.
In the past the far-right activist has also called for violence against counter-protestors. On social media he wrote “don’t try to fight people try to kill them”.
Islamophobia and conspiracy theories
O’Flaherty, who portrays himself as deeply Catholic, having previously opined that “the catholic [sic] religion is the basis of all human rights”, has also denounced gardaí for apparently favouring Muslim worshippers during the pandemic. Gardaí have “beaten and arrested” Irish Catholics while allowing Muslim people to gather in their hundreds for religious services, according to the provocateur.
In the past he’s also tried to link Muslim immigration to Ireland to Islamic extremism and, bizarrely, house prices.
Writing in 2017 he contended that the government has intentionally let Islamic terrorists come to Ireland “because they have large familys [sic]”. And this means they’ll “drive up the price of houses which one third of Irish TD’s [sic] rent out”. He doesn’t mention the role of vulture funds in ensuring people are priced out of the house market.
His views about the COVID-19 pandemic are similarly warped.
O’Flaherty believes the COVID-19 vaccine has caused thousands of deaths and adverse reactions amongst children. The failed politician has promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to combat the virus. Research has shown there’s “insufficient evidence” that ivermectin is an effective treatment. Hydroxychloroquine is also ineffective and can actually cause extreme illness in people who take it. In spite of this he has advocated for their use and has instead pronounced that those wearing masks are “germ buckets”.
Facebook appears to be the main outlet for O’Flaherty’s views.
The company’s record of platforming extremism has long been criticised by various activists and groups. Studies have found that Holocaust denial and racism have thrived on the platform. Facebook continues to allow well-known Irish far-right agitators such as Rowan Croft, aka Grand Torino, and Graham Carey to use the platform despite the fact that they’ve regularly posted videos calling for violence against purported enemies.
The Beacon contacted Facebook regarding O’Flaherty’s targeting of politicians and public figures but has yet to receive a response.
Featured image via Screenshot