Balbriggan is noteworthy for several reasons. Having grown rapidly in population in the post-Celtic Tiger years, the seaside town has one of the highest concentrations of people born outside of Ireland, and whose national origin is from outside of Ireland. According to CSO statistics, just 73 per cent of a population of 21601 reported as being born in Ireland, whilst 79 per cent reported as being of Irish nationality.
By ethnic and cultural background, those reporting as “White Irish” and “White Irish Traveller” equated to just under 64% of the population. “Other White” tallied at just over 16.5%. Those registering as “Black or Black Irish” made for nearly 11% of the town, whilst “Asian or Asian Irish” was 2.8%. Those registered as “Other” or “Not Stated” made for more than 5.5% of Balbriggan’s population.
In a recent Newstalk podcast by Pat Kenny, Balbriggan is named as the most racially and ethnically diverse town in Ireland, with the population increasing by 200 percent, more than 6 times the average rate of population increase in Ireland. The process has been immediate, not gradual. With a population of only 8,000 twenty years ago, Balbriggan now holds just under 25,000 people.. Balbriggan according to Kenny is “the microcosm of the greater Ireland”, and how people “integrate” into Balbriggan is a “template for how the rest of the country will do”.
When clear cultural differences are brought up, the Newstalk piece generally intends to dispel any negatives. Through interviews and vox pops with teachers and pupils at an Educate Together school and a Foroige youth centre, the highlighting of different backgrounds tries to imbue the idea that cultural and ethnic differences are resolved by bringing them together.
The issue of youth gangs, known to be openly operating throughout North Dublin and the Fingal County region are brought up to a member of An Garda Siochana, and are downplayed as being “young people travelling together”. A community worker states that “there are no gangs in Balbriggan”. Issues are consistently airbrushed and understated.
This positive spin undermines a series of largely negative reports regarding crime in the area. Prior to his 2018 presidential campaign, Balbriggan-based artist Kevin Sharkey stated that “a 10 or 20 per cent increase in any nationality in an area dissipates the culture and we need an honest and open discussion about this because everyone is terrified to bring it up”. Sharkey also argued that it was unfair for people in towns like Balbriggan “to be asked to assimilate a lot of people who don’t share their culture and expect everything to be OK.”
An article in the Fingal Independent and a phone-in on 98FM, both in late 2017 referred to a protest that was attended by nearly 1000 concerned residents, with a petition signed by 467 people demanding action be taken by the Gardai in regards to these supposedly nonexistant gangs. Locals claimed that gangs of “up to 40 youths” gather to cause trouble. Organiser Shane Byrne said that women in the area are “afraid to leave their homes”. A Fingal Joint Policing Committee earlier that year acknowledged that issues concerning rising crime levels, burglaries, and anti-social behaviour. Ethnic diversity within the town and concerns about integration were listed as contributing factors.
On the evenings of the 27th and 30th of January, meetings held by Anti-Corruption Ireland on a premises in Balbriggan were disrupted. Speaking at the event were journalists Gemma O’Doherty, who ran for election to the Dail in the Dublin-Fingal constituency, and John Waters, who ran as a candidate in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency. A prominent theme of their political campaigning has been opposition to mass immigration, as well as holding public officials to greater accountability. Also due to attend on the 27th was the leader of the National Party, Justin Barrett, who was aggressively obstructed by counter-protesters in his car as he tried to attempt to enter the meeting.
Footage from the scene of the incident shows a crowd outside the venue blockading the car and making taunts towards Barrett, who eventually drives away, failing to enter the proposed meeting. Whilst we cannot confirm who was responsible for this, the chants and singing at the proceedings seemed familiar to what one would expect from groups such as ANTIFA, or certain self-described “republican socialist” groups that tend to congregate for these events. Members of An Gardai Siochana had to be called to the counter-protest. Those praising this action did so under the pretence that they would not tolerate the notion of “racists” and “fascists” organising in the town of Balbriggan.
Members of ‘Committee for a Worker’s International’ attended the demonstration. A global conglomeration of open-border Trotskyites, their political wing in Ireland is Solidarity-People Before Profit. They currently have two TD’s currently sitting in Dail Eireann, and their electoral candidate John Uwhumiakpor, resident in Balbriggan was present at the protest. As a political body which received 97% of its 2018 income from the government as a result of elected representation, we have the first of several examples of influencers who, being present at the protest, act as glorified proxies of the State.
Garrett Mullan, who ran unsuccessfully as a Social Democrats candidate in last years local elections for Dublin-Fingal was also present. Mullen was one of the founders of the sports NGO Show Racism The Red Card, a group which received more than 82% of its 2017 income from government sources. Like PBP, the SocDems have two elected TD’s, as well as government funding, accounting for 92% of their last reported income.
Green Party TD Joe O’Brien was another politician present to give his support for the counter-demonstration. Being from the neighbouring town of Skerries, and having won last years Dublin-Fingal by-election, his presence adds weight to the official political elements at play. To add to this, O’Brien is also a project manager for the Immigrant Council of Ireland. The Green Party received 93% of its 2018 income from the government. As for the Immigrant Council of Ireland, whilst only 18% of their last reported income came from government sources, and another 12% from the EU Commission, nearly 43% came from Atlantic Philanthropies, a philanthropic organisation that has given more than $8 billion globally to such establishments.
It is important to mention this in lieu of regional influence in elections, as much has been said by detractors of Gemma O’Doherty not being from the Fingal area. This is despite the fact that in last year’s by-election, which had an extremely low turnout of 25.6%, and a complete lack of interest groups funding her, O’Doherty managed to gain just over 4% of first preference votes. Whilst O’Brien won and gained the seat with just under 23%, he did so on a tide of apathy and turnout within his own local area. As an elected town councillor for Balbriggan we must also regard that Skerries, his hometown is considered part of the Balbriggan area in local council elections, so this can essentially bias whether he speaks on behalf of Balbriggan or of only the immediate surrounding area.
In local electoral terms, two people who I have just mentioned, Garrett Mullan and John Uwhumiakpor, failed in their efforts to be elected in the 2019 local elections, with each of them gaining little more than 300 votes individually, less than 3% of the vote. These are two individuals who appeared at the recent protest have not only stood for election, represent political parties and NGO’s, but also have strong media relations through their various associations. Contesting February’s General Election, Uwhumiakpor ran as a candidate, polling only 0.77% of the vote.
When translated into electoral results, these two men speak for a very small fraction of the head count of Balbriggan town as well as the greater Fingal region. So for them to say that Gemma O’Doherty is “unwelcome” in Balbriggan is disingenuous, considering that in a low turnout by-election (25.6%), she can engage more votes than they could in a more highly attended local election (45.9%). In February’s General Election, with a blackout by national or local mainstream media on her campaign, O’Doherty still managed to receive 1,614 votes and just short of 2%.
It is also dubious to say that she is exploiting the diversity of the town and trying to stoke tensions by campaigning there, when there is a clear lack of interest from the media and a lack of a hands-on approach in addressing any of these issues. Political correctness makes this even worse by turning diversity into the elephant in the room that no one should openly talk about. Particularly on issues that relate to supply and demand, crime and multiculturalism.
Also, consider that this counter-protest with multiple representatives from political parties and NGO’s gathered around 100 people, but a citizens protest raising concerns about youth crime in the same town gathered nearly 1000 people. It is clear that what you have is evidence of a small group of people, a good number of whom have monied interests behind them, orchestrating an act of political theatre dressed up as grassroots activism. For these people to say that they have the interests of the area at large in mind is completely disingenuous.
Many of these key actors at the event belong to groups and causes that claim to push for “alternatives”, in spite of them being parts of groups which are largely funded and subsidized by the Irish government. They will happily use this influence to try and shut down meetings and block access to meetings of groups whose views they don’t agree with. They are the embodiment of “controlled opposition” or “proxy warriors”.