The past year we’ve become accustomed to our state’s security apparatus warning about an as of yet non-existent terrorist threat from the so called far right. While the Oireachtas benches have not been graced by their first hard right parliamentarian, our media ecosystem is flooded with so called security experts ginning up the prospects of violence and even terrorism directed by the far right.
From frankly ludicrous media exposes on alleged extremist infiltration of the Defence Forces to the mania that overtook our press in the days subsequent to the ‘Rocket Man’ protests on Grafton Street, an entire genre of ‘experts’ are trying to justify their position in an industry that is badly short of extremists to pursue.
We’ve seen the ceaseless platforming of ISD’s Aoife Gallagher to hype up the threat posed by Qanon groups with both Garda Commissioner Harris and the Special Detective Unit confirming both their interest in and surveillance of dissident right groups.
No surprises that this paranoia has crept to the Defence Forces, which despite high profile examples of penetration by an Islamist and ongoing disintegration of our military capabilities as it awaits to be subsumed by the EU/NATO has reported on the threat posed by the radical right to Ireland.
In their recently released Defence Forces Review, highlighting challenges awaiting state security in the coming year an entire chapter is donated to the issue of right wing extremism. Penned by DCU academic and NATO analyst Livia Margna, the report covers 10 pages arguing for a need for the Republic to prepare itself accordingly following white nationalist terror attacks in New Zealand and America.
While the report is high on rhetoric the only statistical evidence given bar allegory to a rise in violence right wing extremism is INAR Ireland’s famously flawed method of DIY reporting as well as a rather flimsy Europol report on terrorism spun heavily by the media but which reported zero actual instances of right wing terrorism.
As far as reporting on the radical right goes, the study is a rather poor performer leaning far more on rhetoric taken out of a left leaning social study text than a proper security analysis. With condemnation of ‘neoliberal globalisation’ and the pinning of a sudden uptick in right wing extremism in Ireland on ‘traditional security, privileges and dominance of white men’ disapatting, one is left almost aghast how an academic writing for an official organ of state could deploy such banal left wing analysis.
With jabs at those in the media and political mainstream platforming and normalising Islamophobia, one finishes the report with no greater insight than if one had pursued Imelda May’s twitter feed.
Of particular note is where the analysis strays directly into the political arena. decrying the Peter Casey phenomenon and anti-immigration parties as potential bridgeheads for extremism.
“Ireland also witnessed the mainstreaming of radical right-wing ideas. The recent emergence of parties such as the National Party, the Irish Freedom Party and Identity Ireland – whose candidate won 0.5% of Ireland’s South Constituency’s votes in the 2019 European Parliament elections by calling for a “zero tolerance approach towards demands […] to accommodate minority held beliefs and cultures” – stand testament to the presence of intolerance. Furthermore, almost a quarter of the electorate supported Peter Casey in the 2018 presidential election”
It is no business of Margna herself, presumably a foreign national, to pass judgement on the electoral preferences of the Irish people, especially using the podium granted to her by our Defence Forces. In the aftermath of high profile attacks perhaps such a report is necessary for our security forces but not when it wanders into what is at the moment, political punditry.
Name-dropped alongside the above political parties are Gemma O’Doherty, Breitbart and even Rowan Croft for their role as ‘influencers’ in the ferment of extremism. Invariably Margna’s study while providing precious little new insight was syndicated to an awaiting press pack as evidence of the growing menace of right wing extremism.
Gript also named, was able to successfully seek a retraction owing to the borderline defamatory use of the term ‘far right’ to describe the publication. In May a presumably embarrassed military establishment was forced to sign off on the reprinting of the annual review as a consequence.
For example of an actual threat assessment take a look at any of the regular studies on dissident paramilitarism in the North and notice the totally different tone.
Not the only group to be hyping the chances of right wing extremism, Sinn Féin in their own submission to the Department of Defence’s annual review were keen to press home the need for digital literacy in the face of an incipient threat.
Emphasising the risk of foreign actors influencing members of the Defence Forces into extremism, the Shinner submission is awkwardly similar to that of any NATO expert and ironic in light of the party’s history of paramilitarism.
Quoting from their submission
“The very real danger that disinformation campaigns pose to military organisations has been recognised by a number of Scandinavian countries in particular. Where several states have now introduced active educational programmes designed to protect their military from these threats.”
Again this received profuse press coverage with scant evidence as to the actual threat of the far right bar rhetoric.
As we dust ourselves off from the botched covid response the Republic will increasingly be a fertile ground for populism with no coincidence that Sinn Féin are the most apprehensive about it.
As America and even France tumbles towards greater internal strife expect our state to become increasingly jumpy from any and all threat to its political and ideological survival. In time the ideas lambasted by these reports will come to the fore of our body politic buoyed on not by bullets but by the clear contradictions we are all forced to live through under the globalist yoke.