On Wednesday both the Dáil and the Seanad set aside time for expressions of sympathy to the family of British Conservative MP David Amess who was murdered by a suspected Islamist Ali Harbi Ali whose family is from Somali and who were granted residency in Britain in the 1990s.
His father Harbi Ali Kullane is a former Somali government official. Ali Harbi is reported to have been influenced among others by listening to Jihadist preacher Anjem Choudray and this, along with his having booked an appointment with Amess in his Southend office, is regarded as possible evidence of a pre-planned attack.
None of this background to the murder was referred to by any TD or Senator in the course of their contributions yesterday. Indeed, the theme running through most of them was that Amess being killed was somehow simply an attack on democratically elected representatives. There was also reference to the role of social media in targeting such individuals for abuse.
Yet, as some pointed out with regards to the political and media response in Britain itself, nasty tweets did not kill David Amess. An extreme Islamist – who like almost all of the Islamic terrorists who have mounted such attacks across Europe over the past 20 years was of second-generation immigrant background – murdered David Amess.
Most political representatives along with the mainstream media do not want to mention this as it conflicts with their dogmatic commitment to the view that extreme Islamism, which has many adherents in European countries that have significant immigrant populations from parts of Africa and Asia, is somehow best not talked about.
Perhaps there are pragmatic reasons for this, although on the very best interpretation that amounts to a cowardly belief that if radical Islam and ghettoised immigrant populations are not referred to, maybe – like the un-poked bear – they will leave us alone for a while. Evidence from this country to date would suggest that such individuals and groups have been content to use Ireland as a logistical and ideological centre rather than view it as a target. So perhaps it works.
That interpretation of the short and tepid expressions of sympathy here is however somewhat undermined when it is contrasted to the reaction to the horrific murder in 2016 of British Labour MP Jo Cox. She was murdered by a dysfunctional individual with no links to any British political group but who had apparently been in contact with a minor American neo-Nazi organisation that was deemed to be moribund by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2013.
And yet her murder was used not only in an attempt to smear the campaign for Britain to leave the EU which was in progress at the time, but also as in some way a justification for mass immigration and multi-culturalism. Indeed, if anything the liberal and left elite in the Irish state were more aggressive in pushing that narrative than even their counterparts across the Irish Sea.
Then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar referred to immigration having “added greatly” to British society during his condolences to Jo Cox’s family and friends. Gerry Adams somehow discerned a link between the murder and the need to non-judgementally take in “those thousands crossing the Mediterranean Sea.” Being non judgemental has always been a huge thing with Sinn Féin, of course.
Brendan Howlin, then leader of the Labour Party, stated that Cox would “inspire us to redouble our efforts to combat extremism and hatred in all its forms.” Well, that would depend on what form if you were to go by the statements made by his Party colleagues yesterday.
Yesterday, Richard Boyd Barrett was one of those to play the “oh, we need to ensure that there is robust debate and all views are listened to” card, which contrasts somewhat not only with the far left’s aggression towards any dissenting views, but also with the political speech he delivered in 2016. He managed to link sympathy for Cox’s death to the left’s support for Islamists in Gaza and for the left’s version of “anti racism.”
He also claimed that “the person who was apprehended was associated with some of the far right in Europe.” Which he was not, but the left were intent on using Cox’s murder to promote the censorship of any point of view contrary to the liberal left consensus that embraces almost every party across the nominal left and right in this country.
And, at the time, there was much more of the same from other TDs and Senators harping on about diversity and refugees and solidarity. Which is fine. That is their Shtick. One, however, is tempted to call hypocrisy and double standards when it is contrasted with what some might describe as the mainly mealy-mouthed expressions of sympathy for the family of David Amess.
Many of them would have held Amess in contempt because of his views on abortion and Brexit – but of course you can’t express that when you are sitting in parliament– so instead he was damned with faint praise.
The only person to refer to David Amess’ political views was Senator Ronan Mullen who mentioned the fact that Amess was regarded as one of the staunchest opponents of abortion in the British Parliament. Mullen also said that he believed Amess would have regarded the proposed Sinn Féin Bill to prevent people protesting against abortion with disfavour.
The Bill drafted by a pro-abortion lobby group had been introduced by Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan who chose not to use his time under Order of Business to make any reference to the murder of Amess. Sinn Féin was the only party in the Seanad not to do so. Knowing them as I do, it is difficult to imagine that this was some oversight.