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The normalisation of hate-speech in Ireland is almost complete

It’s hardly surprising that gardaí are seeing ‘a huge rise in the level of aggression’ at anti-immigration protests despite a sharp decline in such gatherings: some people believe they have a licence now

What far right? You can’t mean in Ireland? You mean the people who’ve been asking for a bit of common sense on immigration?

Some who reach beyond their own bubble on social media will be familiar with the hammy, disingenuous attempts to pretend they’ve gone away or were never here. Sure isn’t everyone now on the side of “common sense”? Isn’t the Government finally talking about “common sense”? The energy is powerful.

And what do you mean by hate speech? You mean my obnoxious but legally held opinion? Again the faux bafflement and denial that a new law might be needed because people are so ... you know ... respectful while robust.

Much of this converged outside the rear of a building in Tallaght Retail Park last week where a small mob, Tricolour aloft, phones out, fronted up to a small group of gardaí. The language and sentiments may warrant a warning in a family newspaper but it is important not to censor the reality faced by gardaí trying to do their jobs and citizens frightened into silence. The exchange was filmed and posted online by one of the proud protesters and reproduced on X. Here’s an extract.

“Yiz ain’t f***in’ welcome,” roars a male voice with violent intensity, “facilitating the rape of your kids”. A female protester attempts to walk through the garda line.

“Hey – ey – ey,” roars a louder voice at the female garda who is calmly moving the protester back to her pals, “she can f***in’ walk, ya fat b***h ya ... Get your hand off her, ya horrible woman ya, ya horrible b*****d ya, ... ya lesbian scumbag, ya scummy b***h ... wouldn’t spit on ya, get that uniform off ya shameful b*****d, doesn’t even fit ya ...”. And on and on it goes. All said with the same violent, bawling intensity.

The garda looks away for a moment, her expression unreadable. A male garda asks louder voice to calm down. “You calm down your f***in’ area, they’re coming to our f***in’ area, this is our f***in’ area. Tallaght says NO! What about the f***in’ Irish ...”

He is up very close to the garda now, phone out front.

“Here – here – watch my phone here. Control this dog will you, control this b***h, this is an animal, control this animal here. This is her boyfriend,“ he roars when a male colleague says something to her.

The filming stops when a minibus comes through the gates followed by an ambulance. “Here’s public order everybody,” says a voice as they scatter.

Count the far-right markers: the view of women, the dehumanising of those they deem “other”, the routine child rape allegation, the raging certitude of white ethnic supremacy, the desperation to prove their virility, the homophobia.

On Tuesday, that video remained on Twitter/X, the platform owned by Elon Musk who has pledged to fund any Irish challenges to the hate speech Bill, yet treats any Oireachtas committee engagement with disdain.

The vitriol directed at Green Party Councillor Janet Horner on Twitter/X is just another reminder of how social media bleeds into real life. “I would love to slap her on the side of the head.” “Ugly on the inside and the outside. Vile Green creatures.” “You let em in, you take care of em! You alone, no one else should have to suffer or be put out! You c**t.” “B***h. a w***e who sold her soul. we will remember you. what you have dun to the irish people. very dark.” “you’ll get my number 1 rope.”

Horner was one of several women subjected to physical and verbal intimidation while out canvassing in recent weeks. In one case an angry man lunged at her and threatened to kill her, roaring, “We don’t want your Green Party s***e around here, Dublin 1 is for the far right.” Horner is white. It’s not hard to imagine the vile assaults on those who are “other”.

Also recently posted on Musk’s Twitter/X was this screed by a well-known far-right figure: “I’m going to be very clear: If you are an asylum seeker, a refugee, or you’re in Ireland on a work permit, go home. 10 years from now Ireland will be run by nationalists and we will begin deporting foreigners. Make no mistake, we will be ruthless ... Ireland is ours! You are all going home ... We will bend and break rules to get you out as fast as possible, the same way you all entered. The more of a life you make for yourself in Ireland, the harder it will be for you ...”

They believe they have a licence now. It’s hardly surprising that gardaí are seeing “a huge rise in the level of aggression” at anti-immigration protests despite a sharp decline in such gatherings, as assistant commissioner Angela Willis told the Dublin City Council joint policing committee on Monday.

This is where the mainstreaming of the far right and the “anti-woke” movement has taken us, a process boosted by those using far-right tropes in the Oireachtas and the language around the referendums.

Everyone knows where it leads. The fears for democracy and for those seeking to represent us in the shock after the shooting of the Slovakian prime minister were best summed up by Belgium’s prime minister Alexander De Croo: “There’s a French saying that when people who feel disgusted go away, only disgusting people stay”.

It’s really not difficult to separate the far right from the legitimately concerned. Or to distinguish hate speech from merely obnoxious opinion. Or to modify your language to make absolutely clear which side you favour. “Common sense” is just another code. The normalisation phase is almost complete.

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