The Institute for Strategic Dialogue managed to get themselves invited to deliver a presentation on April 27th to a training session for the Houses of the Oireachtas – on Fighting Fake News.
According to Denise Kelleher, a training officer in the Houses of the Oireachtas who introduced Ciaran O’Connor and Aoife Gallagher of the ISD, this is part of a ‘Health and Well-being’ programme.
By my reckoning there were never more than 18 people watching the webinar and only one of the remaining half dozen was sufficiently energised to ask a question at the end. How exactly this fits in with the health and well being of Oireachtas staff is best known to the organisers, I suppose.
We have referred to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue before. It clearly wears two faces. On the one hand its origins and funding sources clearly mark it as effectively a state actor. On the other it clearly has a lot of credibility across the Irish left.
It was originally operated through the Trialogue Educational Trust, and one of its trustees was Michael Maclay formerly of the British Foreign Office and a director of Hakluyt which was associated with former MI6 personnel and was alleged to have infiltrated various environmental activist groups. Some of the current Board make interesting searches too.
The alleged infiltration by a company connected to Maclay of “green” groups is all the more curious from an Irish perspective given the suspicions that arose regarding certain people who were involved in the Rossport campaign against Shell at around the same times as the Sunday Times published its report on Hakluyt. Their current list of partners and sponsors underlines their strong links to what the left would once have viewed as the chaps in the black hats; the “For Roysh” even:
Apart from the European Commission, the British Home Office, the United States State Department, and the US Department of Homeland Security, their funders include the Bill Gates Foundation, the Soros Open Society Foundation, and the National Democratic Institute which is “loosely connected” to the American Democratic Party and which has funded nationalist political parties in Northern Ireland as well as having been accused, or credited with, interference in countries as diverse as Ukraine, Venezuela and Chile.
The ISD, of course, also enjoys the support of the Woke corporations such as Facebook and Google – the very same social media entities upon which so much of the ISD’s attention is focused in their efforts to control what people are allowed to see on the interweb.
Which is interesting given that the ISD claims that one of its interests is investigating “left wing extremism.” Gallagher when discussing social media disinformation on transgenderism also used the term “TERFs” which of course is a deeply loaded ideological label applied to feminists who do not accept the wilder claims of the transgender activists and their supporters on the left.
Mind you, there are all kinds of ways in which state actors can investigate targets by appearing to be sympathetic to them. In fairness to the far left in Ireland, it ought to be pointed out that their main areas of concern and activism and their policies on most issues are so close to those of the western political elites that the line is very blurred.
The Oireachtas webinar highlighted the dangers emanating from what it claims are networks of disinformation and extremism in Ireland through the internet. Much of that appears to rest on monitoring of parts of the internet that very few people can even access, and they do not name any of the groups or individuals allegedly engaged in that sector.
What they did do is to provide a list of individuals and organisations here who they claim were spreading disinformation through Facebook and other media. Apparently the Irish Freedom Party qualifies to be a part of that watch list because it is “Euro sceptic” – and the Yellow Vests on the basis that they are “anti-government.”
Is opposition to the EU or even questioning where the EU is going another manifestation of “extremism”? Like the pro-life movement perhaps? And who else qualifies under the rubric of being “anti-government”? Sinn Féin, the MICA home owners? Turf cutters?
Fittingly perhaps the webinar concluded with O’Connor hoping that Elon Musk’s pledge to ensure freedom of speech on Twitter ends with him selling it – presumably to one of those billionaires who the ISD and the Irish left do not mind owning other corporations. And indeed, why would they when you consider who keeps them all in lattes.