Is ‘Far-right’ a label used by the media and political establishment to delegitimize protests they don’t like

In the aftermath of the protest which erupted on Sandwith Street Upper, Dublin 2 last Friday evening, much of the mainstream media coverage of the event refers to it as a far-right protest. 

Those of us who regularly engage with the mainstream media in Ireland will not have failed to notice this term being bandied about to refer to almost anything that goes against the acceptable narrative from mothers with prams taking to the streets to people praying outside abortion facilities. 

When you repeatedly use a phrase like ‘far right’ to describe almost anyone you don’t agree with, the term begins to lose meaning – something I think is happening in Ireland right now. 

Having reported on last Friday’s protest and counter protest on Pearse Street over a period of about two and a half hours it appeared to me that the majority of those participating on the outside of the Garda line were local to the area. 

Judging by the way the crowd interacted with each other I was left with the distinct impression that the protest was a gathering of a community who knew each other well.  

It is particularly difficult to believe that the large number of women, teenagers, and young children in attendance were ‘far right agitators’ or that they had flooded in from other areas.


During my time at the protest I spoke to a considerable number of people all of whom seemed to be ordinary working class local folks who feel their concerns are simply being ignored by official Ireland. 

Some of the women who spoke to me said they were afraid for their own safety and that of their children for various reasons including an allegation that a bladed weapon had been seized from the camp earlier that day.

How would you feel for example if a stranger who was camping outside your home was found to have an illegal weapon –  and on expressing your wishes that they leave the area you were dismissed as a racist or far-right? 

During a segment on Upfront with Katie Hannon aired last night a video taken before the protest on Friday was shown depicting a verbal confrontation between what appeared to be local men and a male migrant. 

In the version of the video shown on RTÉ the local men can be heard calling the migrant a “paedophile” – all in all, it looks like an unprovoked verbal assault. 

What RTÉ didn’t show viewers was a longer version of the same video, which puts the exchange in a very different light.

Neither did they interview any of the local people from Pearse Street on the programme. 

In circumstances where mainstream media voices do little to examine the grievances of ordinary people and instead seem to prefer to name-call while defending government and NGO talking points , is it really any wonder that  more and more people are tuning into alternative voices? 

As I wrote in a news article about the events of Friday evening, the atmosphere was tense and at times heated exchanges could be heard – one man boldly told someone who he seemed to believe was an RTÉ journalist to shove his TV licence somewhere unmentionable while announcing that he had “six tellys” in his “gaff”. 

There was a fair bit of choice language floating through the air, but I didn’t witness any violence and a Garda spokesperson confirmed that no injuries had been reported. 

For months on end, residents of places like East Wall have been demonstrating and repeatedly saying that they are not willing to accept large numbers of asylum seekers being landed on their door steps, but what has the government done for them? 

All over the country ordinary people have resorted to taking to the streets seemingly spurred into doing so by an almost complete lack of political will to actually listen to them, let alone address their concerns. 

 Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman was quick to condemn the protest on Sandwith Street but I’m yet to see him acknowledge his fundamental role in creating a situation where hundreds of migrants are homeless on Ireland’s streets. 

Alas, the thousands of Irish homeless don’t seem to get as much airtime. 

My impression of the protest was one of a community coming together to demand that their local area not play host to the consequences of irresponsible government policy.

As Niamh Uí Bhriain previously wrote, not everyone has the necessary legal clout to lodge official complaints to Dublin City Council or go to the High Court seeking injunctions  in response to issues of local concern. 

“People are castigated for “shouting” or “chanting” or behaving in any way that’s not acceptably middle-class. They are told to go to the Dáil (where they can be happily ignored) or to write an email so that TDs can send a pro forma response while hoping that the situation sorts itself out.”

I think it’s worth asking how many of the left wing protestors shouting “refugees are welcome here,” would welcome an encampment springing up metres from their own homes? 

I’m not sure how many residents of Sandwith Street attend Trinity College where many of the asylum seeker ‘welcoming committee’ were seen retreating to after the Gardaí escorted them away from the working class area. 

During my attempts to ask the left wing protesters for their side of the story one of them shouted to the rest not to speak to me saying “she’s fash” – so here we have a situation where one section of Irish society seems to feel entitled to dismiss anyone they think has a different opinion with an arbitrary term and a few dirty looks. 


I don’t condone the burning of what the Gardaí said was “some furniture and wooden pallets,” where the migrant camp was, but no-one seems to want to ask the residents of the area their opinion on a large group of agitators showing up on a Friday evening shouting “refugees are welcome” and “fascist scum off our streets” at them – on their doorstep. 

Given the circumstances of why the protest even came about in the first place one has to question whether it is accurate or fair to dismiss concerned citizens – not just in Dublin 2 but all over the country – as simply far-right racists. 


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