Two gay men have been murdered so why does that matter to Irish extremists?

Two gay men have been murdered so why does that matter to Irish extremists?

As soon as the news broke that Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee had been murdered in Sligo the usual suspects latched on to the tragedy. Even though the chief suspect has lived in Ireland since childhood it made no difference. He doesn’t look white enough and his name isn’t what’s considered an Irish stereotype by racial purists. In an apparent show of concern for the safety of members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Irish extremists ranging from the Irish Freedom Party (IFP) to the National Party all came out to attack the suspect and his apparent motives. 

But, as usual, it’s entirely cynical. These same people are more than happy to attack the LGBTQIA+ community at any given opportunity. Nothing has changed in that regard, only now they see a chance to criticise Ireland’s supposedly lax immigration policies based on who’s been charged with the two murders. 

Attacking immigration

Perhaps most emblematic of this has been the IFP’s president, Hermann Kelly. Just two days after the suspect charged with the murders of Moffitt and Snee appeared in Sligo District Court, the IFP posted a video on its YouTube channel in which Kelly discussed the murders. He argued that the country has been “traumatised” by the killings and goes on to reveal details of the case. Kelly also mentioned the death of Ashling Murphy, who was murdered in Tullamore in January.

For Kelly, though, this concern is fleeting given that these are not just tragic murders. Instead, he insists that three people are dead because of the government’s immigration policies. Kelly specifically blames Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, saying that if the two suspects were not in Ireland the killings wouldn’t have happened in the first place. 

Throughout the eight-minute video he repeats the talking points we’ve long come to associate with right-wing and far-right anti-immigration rhetoric. Kelly says Ireland needs its borders for “economic reasons” as well as “for security” and called for the introduction of immigration quotas. He also repeated claims about an increase of violence in Sweden because of immigration, talking as if the country is on the verge of collapse. Kelly demanded that migrants arriving in Ireland “will not require a house” and must “accept our way of life”. His assertions are characteristically ignorant but not entirely surprising given his echoing of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory in recent years. 

But Kelly’s alleged support of the LGBTQIA+ community quickly disappeared when not even halfway through he attacked trans people. He voiced disappointment that the “NGO establishment and RTÉ” were using the murders to “push once more the trans agenda”. He dismissed the concerns of trans people and their supporters as an “ideological hobby horse” that’s irrelevant to what took place in Sligo.

“It is deeply disturbing to see the brutal killings of two gay men, Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee, being used to push an Islamophobic and anti-immigration agenda”, says Sophia Siddiqui of the UK-based Institute of Race Relations (IRR). Speaking with The Beacon Siddiqui pointed out that such exploitation “is not surprising”. Looking back on the aftermath of the murder of Murphy in January, she said “we have seen how far-right groups opportunistically weaponise crimes where the suspects are ethnic minority individuals to call for further immigration controls”.

The “demographic time bomb”

A former press officer for Nigel Farage, Kelly is not the only individual from the Irish far-right ecosphere to cynically feign concern for gay people in the aftermath of the murders. He’s also not the only hypocrite in that regard. But he has mixed with various anti-gender rights extremists from across the globe at a demographics conference in Budapest in September last year. And this makes him an important node in the wider network dedicated to attacking and diluting the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and women in general. 

Organised by the Hungarian government, the conference attracted a wide range of conservative and extremist politicians and activists there to speak on the issue of the supposed demographic time bomb threatening Europe. Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán also spoke on the topic, telling attendees that “Western civilisation is not able to reproduce”. He declared that Hungary and the West must defend themselves from the left who he says is “attacking the traditional family model” using the “tool” of the “gender lobby”. Orbán went on to accuse LGBTQIA+ activists in the US of targeting children in kindergarten, saying it’s “part of the new Marxist, woke programme” and that the same tactics are being used in Europe. Hungary, he stressed, is dedicated to ensuring children are raised “in a Christian culture” and that a father is male and a mother a female.

Other speakers such as Dr. Mária Schmidt attacked the MeToo movement, saying it’s made women perpetual victims as well as “dogmatic and aggressive feminists”. She went on to accuse elites of being “focused on destroying our culture” through migration. Schmidt also attacked the Muslim community in Europe, linking it to incest, familiacide, and antisemitism. Schmidt, a close ally of Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party, has in the past been accused of being a “Holocaust revisionist” for attempting to downplay Hungary’s role in the deportation of Jewish people during the Second World War. 

The main attraction of the conference though appeared to be Mike Pence, the former US vice president. After Hungary’s minister for families, Katalin Novák, gave him a fawning introduction, Pence called attention to various crises currently plaguing the globe, from economic downturn to the pandemic. But of these dilemmas he said one there’s one in particular which “strikes at the very heart of civilisation itself: The erosion of the nuclear family, marked by declining marriage rates, rising divorce, widespread abortion, and plummeting birthrates”. He also praised Hungary’s actions to counter what he described as “demographic decline” as well as other countries in Central and Eastern Europe for “rejecting the modern left’s vision of a post-Christian, post-national, post-family world”. Pence finished by relating his hope that the US Supreme Court will end legalised abortion, the latter of which he compared to eugenics.

A cynical mouthpiece

Apparently inspired by meeting Pence and other attendees — including Lorenzo Fontana, a member of the Italian far-right party Lega  — a month later Kelly unleashed a torrent of similar talking points online. Writing for far-right student publication the Burkean, he wistfully reminisced about Ireland’s previous fame for its “faith, fecundity, and large families”. Now, though, Ireland and the rest of Europe have a “cultural death-wish [sic]” given the fall in birth rates. With current immigration rates he writes that “the replacement of Irish people by non-Irish people is more than a theory, it is happening before our very eyes”, a clear reference to the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.

The IFP chief blamed Ireland’s “Demographic Peril” on what he called the “LGBT lobby” and its “barren, sterile lifestyles and ideology” which he claimed “seeks not equality not privileges”. Kelly also accused the LGBTQIA+ community of targeting children with “a warped ideology based on enforced groupthink devoid of any basis in ideology”. He even called for the defunding of LGBTQIA+ groups, accusing them of being “probably the most privileged and influential [group] in Ireland”. Kelly wrote “We must face them down and put families with a future first”. He also found time to mention the antisemitic boogeyman of “Cultural Marxism”, calling it a “nefarious influence” that has “degraded” Europe.

In a follow-up video the IFP posted on its YouTube channel in November and which people on social media roundly mocked, Kelly repeated his claims. This time he also blamed “childless feminists”.

His insistence that Ireland is facing decline because of a lack of new children being born and then laying the blame for this at the feet of the LGBTQIA+ community is abhorrent. He assumes that the latter are incapable of creating loving families. Applying the same logic to women he all but suggests that their main role is to reproduce for the good of the nation. It also shows Kelly’s recent video about the murders in Sligo in a different light. Concern about the murders wasn’t what motivated him. It was simply another vector from which to attack the government, migrants, and recruit for his party. At the end of the video he even called on people to join the IFP and help current members canvass.

But Kelly is also a mouthpiece for the global movement intent on rolling back the hard-won rights of LGBTQIA+ people and women. Although no longer employed by Farage, he currently works as press officer for Romanian MEP Cristian Terheș of the Christian Democratic National Peasants’ Party. His cynical attempt to use the murders to further an extremist agenda can’t be dismissed out of hand because of his party’s lack of electoral success. He’s one part of a well-funded network. And where there’s funding, there’s determination. 

“We cannot allow any room for a racism based on the incompatibility of ‘other cultures’ with the West” Siddiqui tells The Beacon. In fact, it’s the foundations of our societies that need examination, not someone’s gender sexual orientation, or skin colour. “Anti-LGBTQ violence, like misogyny and racism, is a systemic issue that needs to be addressed without relying on the scapegoating of immigrant communities as a whole”.

Featured image via YouTube – Screenshot

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