Photo credit: Houses of the Oireachtas

Did Aodhán Ó Ríordáin get the FRO memo?

In the turbulent few months since the people of East Wall first took action against the government’s increasing chaotic and unsustainable policies on migration and asylum, protesters have been wholly demonised not just by the media but by their own TDs, who instead of consulting with them, often jumped to called them ‘far-right’ and accuse them of ‘racism’.

A common refrain was that the hundreds of people turning out in East Wall, along with the hundreds more in Coolock and Ballymun and Finglas were all ‘far-right’ actors exploiting the locals, with the strong implication that said working people were too dim to realise they were being exploited because, sadly, they weren’t intellectual heavyweights like, say, Gary Gannon or Aodhán Ó Ríordáín.

Ó Ríordáin scolded the locals in East Wall as if they were bold children, saying they needed to stop protesting “immediately” and accusing independent councillors of “stoking” up “whatever feeling they can for their own political advantage.”

Gannon said that people were being “manipulated” and that the East Wall protests were a “far-right” rally.

Last month, Ó Ríordáin hosted his own rally which he said was reflective of the “real” northside of Dublin and that he “wouldn’t stand for any prejudicial views or racism”.

He also revealed that he hadn’t spoken to the people protesting in East Wall. “Why would I [do that]?” he asked.

Now, Ó Ríordáin seems to have changed his tune. He apparently told the Irish Times that “the protests can’t be neatly blamed on a fringe group”.

“It feels like it’s going mainstream,” says Dublin Bay North TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin of Labour, who has seen protests in his constituency. “They are local people. We can’t pretend they’re outsiders.

We can’t pretend they’re all politically motivated people from a far-right, racist agenda,” he says.

He’s not alone, of course, in suddenly discovering the protester are local people without a sinister agenda. Look at the opprobrium heaped on protesters who correctly pointed out that many people coming here were falsely claiming asylum  – but now Leo Varadkar is talking the same game.

This shift is happening because it is now impossible to ignore the fact that public opinion, outside of the NGO bubble, is increasingly critical of the mess the government has made of immigration and the asylum process.

Right across the country, there are swathes of voters now protesting migrant centres opening in their area, and many others are quietly supportive of their stance.

That’s led the Labour Party (whose miserable showing in the polls has not improved) to urge its members to attend a seminar given by an outfit called the Far Right Observatory.

Curiously, despite the fact that the far-left in Ireland have murdered a journalist, and attacked a meeting with hammers recently, there is no Far Left Observatory, nor do any of the plethora of organisations currently attempting to put the country on red-alert about ‘the fash’ seem to have interest in extremism on that side of the spectrum.

Huge sums of taxpayers’ cash are available, of course, to anyone watching out for citizens organising in opposition to government polices, which now seems to be the main criteria for being ‘far-right’ these days.

The Far Right Observatory, which despite its grandiose title, doesn’t even have a website and has seemed peculiarly secretive about its operations, has received at least €112,500 in public funds.

That’s a very generous grant for yet another outfit which seems to exist to read Mean Tweets or even Mean Messages on Telegram on something. Easy pickings, some might say.

The FRO have told Labour Party members not to repeat or address claims such as “Ireland is Full” because it “gives more oxygen to the other side”.

“Getting into arguments re the ‘far right’ naturally evokes the so called ‘far left’ framing, something to avoid at all costs,” the FRO guidelines warn.

And there’s an instruction to ignore  the elephant in the room.

“Talk about communities needing to be resourced rather getting into ‘communities should be consulted’ framing. Keep speaking to material needs and what’s needed to enable communities to thrive – rather than getting into supporting the claim that communities should be given the power to veto particular demographics of refugees and people seeking asylum,” the briefing also says.

They spell out: “avoid saying ‘the far-right’, or calling community protests racist” – advice which Aodhán Ó Ríodáin now seems to be following.

The opinion polls and the sheer number of protests and their growing attendances might have forced open borders advocates to this realisation: if you keep categorising everyone who is critical of the current crisis or of open borders as “racist”, then the vast majority of the country is racist – and that is patently absurd.

Then, of course, a date has been set for the next election, so Labour and Fine Gael and the rest will be in the position of having to go to the doors of the same communities who were told they were not entitled to be consulted on migrant centres and ask them for votes.

Expect lots of scrambling and back-tracking over the next few weeks and months.








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