An anti-extremist group has highlighted 12 groups currently active in Ireland it says are anti-immigrant, white nationalist, or anti-LGBTQIA+. According to the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) the groups show a “disturbing trend” that can be found in the US and elsewhere on the globe. With overlap between the groups GPAHE said it expects the far right in Ireland to continue to grow. The report also noted the connections and influence between Irish extremists and the far right in both Europe and the US.
An extremist coalition
Published on Sunday, 21 August, the report lists the main extremist groups currently operating in the far-right ecosphere. On the list are Anti-Corruption Ireland (ACI), House the Irish First, the Iona Institute, the Irish Council for Human Rights (ICHR), the Irish Freedom Party (IFP), LGB Alliance, the National Party, Official Proud Boys Ireland, Rise Up Éireann/Rise Up Ireland, Síol na hEireann, Society of St. Pius X Resistance (SSPX Resistance), and Yellow Vest Ireland.
Although technically different groups, the report underscores that all of them have a similar worldview and appear to have gathered momentum in the aftermath of the legalisation of gay marriage in 2015. GPAHE wrote that “Ireland’s far-right scene has grown in recent years in reaction to progress for LGBTQ+ equality, increased access to abortion, and the fabricated threat of the anti-immigrant and white-supremacist ‘Great Replacement’”. Of particular note is the LGB Alliance, an anti-trans group which GPAHE points out was instrumental in ensuring the Boris Johnson government didn’t include the trans community in the proposed ban on conversion therapy.
In launching the report GPAHE’s co-founder and president Wendy Via argued “It’s critical that people, locally and globally, understand the far-right extremist landscape, how it operates, and how the dots are connected within countries and transnationally in order to counter the threats from these groups”. Fellow co-founder Heidi Beirich pointed to “a disturbing trend in Ireland where white nationalist, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-immigrant, and anti-lockdown groups seem to be coming together and echoing each other’s hateful rhetoric”.
One aspect uniting the listed groups is what GPAHE describes as an aping of US-based extremists. Anti-fluoridation activism and talking points around so-called “Cultural Marxism” and “Agenda 21” all originated on the other side of the Atlantic. But the anti-extremist group noted their use amongst Irish extremists, including by Gemma O’Doherty and her ACI party which GPAHE said “is well attuned to American white nationalist conspiracy theories”. The Iona Institute, the ICHR, and Proud Boys Ireland all take direct influence from the US. In the case of the Iona Institute GPAHE pointed to the group’s use of arguments in favour of religious freedom to attack pro-LGBTQIA+ initiatives. The report revealed that these were “notions originally constructed by American social conservative groups” that are now being put to use in Ireland.
Europol and The Beacon have previously highlighted the links between Irish extremists and the far right elsewhere in Europe and the US. A report Europol published in 2020 disclosed that there’s a “strong international network involving right-wing extremists from Ireland, other European countries, and the USA”. Earlier the same year The Beacon shared content of a National Party member at a protest informing a protestor that the party has “a lot of people in America coming on board helping us now as well”. And in March this year The Beacon uncovered that substantial funding originating in the US was donated to two nuns with links to the antisemitic SSPX Resistance.
Featured image via Twitter – Dr. Robert Bohan Artist