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People Before Profit warns: The Gardai might be planning a coup

A quick reminder, before you read this section of Hugh O’Connell’s report in the Irish Independent yesterday, that we are often told in Ireland about the growing threat from “far right conspiracy theorists”.

Oddly enough, if you are wondering what a conspiracy theory looks like, there’s a pretty good example of it in People before Profit’s new document outlining the virtues of – and dangers to – a so-called “left government”:

Examining the question of whether a left-wing government could succeed, PBP claims that “the rich” will use “their control over the media to turn a population against a left government”.

“Even the prospect of a Sinn Féin-led government has led to a barrage of propaganda from the Irish Independent, the Irish Times and RTÉ against the party. It will not even stop there,” the document states.

The party goes on to claim that “the wealthy” will use “far-right and fascist gangs who use a spurious radical rhetoric to divert anger on to social scapegoats such as migrants, gay, or trans people” and that in the final analysis, “they will deploy the police and the Army to move against elected left-wing governments.

It cites the example of Salvador Allende, the Marxist president of Chile, who was ousted in a US-backed coup in the 1970s.

It would be nice, you know, if the Irish media could focus a little less on so-called “online conspiracy theories” when we have a publicly funded political party in the national parliament which claims that there are powerful and shady interests plotting a coup if it ever happens to win an election. That’s the kind of thing which, if Peadar Toibín said it, would have him denounced as a crank, never to appear on mainstream media programmes again. As it is, Boyd Barrett or one of his fellow drones will be back on The Week in Politics this Sunday, acting as if naught had happened. They won’t, it’s fair to say, be asked many – and likely not any – embarrassing questions about it.

But there are serious questions to ask, embarrassing or not. Note the segment in bold above, which essentially claims that the loyalty of the Gardai and the Armed Forces to Ireland’s democracy is suspect, and that both bodies might, at the drop of a hat, decide to side against the public’s elected Government and put somebody else in charge by force. That is – if People before Profit believes it – an extraordinary charge. It implies that the government of the day governs in Ireland only while the Army and the Garda consent to their being in charge.

If this is the case, one might ask why the army is so poorly funded, and why soldiers are so poorly paid. After all, if Boyd-Barrett and the gang are correct, then a smart Government would be paying them very well indeed, to safeguard their loyalty.

In fact, in states where coups are not inconceivable, this is exactly what happens. If you want a decent standard of living in North Korea or Cuba, you join the armed forces, since the people in power know that the army must be kept loyal to the regime, or else. In countries like Ireland with strong democratic systems where coups are inconceivable, and wars are almost an impossibility, the army tends to atrophy. Which one do we live in?

I might venture that this rhetoric from People before Profit actually obscures the truth of their concerns, which is that the constitution itself would prove a significant barrier to their goals, were they to enter Government. For example, the Irish constitution protects private property rights, which could not be abolished simply by a Minister called Paul Murphy, and would need a referendum. Attempts by a People before Profit Government to act extra-constitutionally would, indeed, likely be opposed by the courts, and, were court orders in need of enforcement, the Gardai. It is this, I suspect, that People before Profit are eager to depict as some kind of coup.

It was Saul Alinsky, I think, who wrote in the book “rules for radicals” that the enemy should always be accused first of that which you are considering yourself.

In any case, the public should perhaps reflect on this. On the one hand, you are told relentlessly that there are dangerous conspiracy theorists in your midst, and Paul Murphy and Richard Boyd Barrett are platformed with great regularity to echo these warnings. On the other hand, an official document from their own party suggests that the Gardai and the Armed forces are potential enemies of the state.

It is to the public’s shame that these nuts are in public office. And it is to the media’s shame that they’re so regularly allowed anywhere near a microphone without being challenged on their own deeply conspiratorial fantasies.

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