The congested field of anti-racist organising in Ireland met with a new and belated contendor this December with the birth of Le Chéile, a new voice to combat Ireland’s apparently nefarious far right. With
an arranged press release coverage from Trotskyite activist and occasional journalist, Kitty Holland, the group announced itself as being a loose nexus of trade unionists, left-politicos and NGOs mobilising against a rising tide of xenophobia, allegedly spiralling during the pandemic.
Among the backers of the group are the usual suspects from TENI, the country’s omnipresent trans lobby. TENI was recently a subject for a deep dive by this publication, delving into their rather ambiguous funding streams and failure to provide valid accounts, showing it to be heavily reliant on foreign corporate funding.
Also signing onto Le Chéile was the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), or rather the ideological cartel that runs the Union of Students in Ireland, personified by Union President Lorna Fitzpatrick. Those with longer memories may recall The Burkean causing some red faces within the union last year, resulting in the resignation of Ms Fitzpatrick’s mid-witted number two, Michelle Byrne, over conspiring with whom she believed to be antifascist activists attempting to harass fellow students and union members. Like a burnt fool’s bandaged finger wandering back to the fire, it appears Ms Fitzpatrick hasn’t got the memo from last year.
Politically, Le Chéile garners support from People Before Profit (PBP) and their anti-racist front group United Against Racism (UAR), as well as Sinn Féin, likely with one eye over their shoulder at an insurgent nativist electoral bloc emerging to pinch their base. Generally speaking it doesn’t matter how many hammers and sickles are attached to a specific anti-racist initiative, all major Irish political parties lend their public support to such efferots, like the Soros-backed INAR antiracist election protocols.
Among those lending their public support to Le Chéile is Turkish national and PBP candidate Mehmet Uludag, who through UAR played a role recently in the organising of continuous rallies during lockdown earlier this month, following the death of armed assailant George Nkencho.
A regular feature of the left and PBP, Uladag has generated some pushback from leftists due his and his party’s previous support for anti-Assad and Islamist linked groups in the earlier days of the Syrian Civil War. Certainly on the matter of accepting Syrian refugees from the conflict, Uladag has made himself known as an avowed open borders advocate in his adopted country.
In a public Zoom call, chaired by the former broadcasting heavyweight Vincent Browne, the general contradictions of the group were made manifest as an august panel made of BLM activists and Oireachtas members humorously struggled with operating the conferencing software. Incidentally they were not the only left-leaning group to fall afoul of technology that evening, with the Future of Media Commission having their own Zoom call descend into profane ridden anarchy due to technical difficulties.
While the mission of Le Chéile is clear, more opaque is the methodology by which it intends to throw its weight around the public arena. While overtly antifascist and left-wing, most members are unsure whether to be smashing skulls of budding alleged fascists, or just begging tech platforms to take down content. While not endorsing violence, the Irish Council of Civil Liberties’ Director, Liam Herrick, didn’t entirely disavow the need for direct action against those deemed to be ‘far right’.
With ample media, political and no doubt corporate connections, its business model could mimic that of the UK’s Hope Not Hate, or even the notorious American groups, the ADL and SPLC. Indeed many of the NGOs backing Le Chéile (TENI Ireland and the Irisih Council of Civil Liberties), share the same plutocratic donor as Hope Not Hate, in the form of industrialist Sigrid Rausing and her foundation.
Given Peter Casey’s meteoric rise, recent racial tensions with the Nkencho shooting, nevermind anit-lockdown protests gathering steam, it appears popular purchase has put our elite on edge. While the radical right has yet to cross the electoral threshold, it was assumed by many on the panel, including Vincent Browne, that such a breakthrough was inevitable.
Clamping down on free expression was another theme of the discussion with all members of the panel pining their support for impending hate speech legislation, as well as coordinating with tech platforms to deplatform speakers. One of the speakers on the panel, Senator Eileen Flynn, is indeed a prominent parliamentary voice for hate speech legislation.
Considerable fear about losing working class support to the nativist right was also expressed, with many on the panel unsure whether to openly endorse physical force action, that many republican antifascist groups already engage in. Generally the conversation simply hit upon the same tired clichés around structural racism and society coming together, that most readers are likely jaded by.
To the casual observer, anti-racist NGOs suffer from a severe lack of demand, despite numbering in the dozens by the sheer amount of them already in existence. Between their various backers, the accumulated funding from state and private sector sources for Le Chéile affiliated groups is in the millions per annum, putting pay to the notion that they represent some organic response in Ireland to the far right.
What Le Chéile is at heart, is a cynical form of astroturfing, and a perfect epitome of the nation’s actual elite rallying to nail down opposition in the form of an emergent right-populist alternative. Make no bones about it, the class of people operating Le Chéile are our elite, even if their brand of rainbow activism grants them the aura of anti-system radicals.
Since the marriage and abortion referenda, we have seen the build up of an essential private army of left-wing operators as a permnanent activist class. Funded as a byproduct of woke capital, they exist solely to harangue the State further down a specific path of liberalisation.
Ultimately, watching the event was a wasted evening for this author, with the only highlight coming in the form of Vincent Browne being asked to check his white male privilege by a frumpy BLM activist. There is not much need for Le Chéile due to the total oversubscription of such organisations in the country by a factor of ten already.
As shown time and time again, antifascist tactics are most effective not via protest or even direct action, but through naked collaboration with the State and private sector, to engage in legal and professional harassment against right-wing dissidents.
In terms of branding, Le Chéile has already made a fatal mistake in using a relatively generic and overused name already in heavy use. Appearing on the fourth page of search engine results, it appears the progenitors of the organisation simply reached for the nearest Foclóir without much forethought.
Bringing very little to the table, Le Chéile is likely to stagger along with our already bloated anti-racist sector for the forseeable future. In reacting against what they call the ‘far right’, very little thought is given to where the left itself has erred on matters of immigration, advancing pernicious policies around lockdowns, and trans activism for children.
If, and more likely when, we see the emergence of the radical right as a electoral force in this country, it is more likely to be because of the actions by groups like Le Chéile, and the rather obvious design flaws in the model of multiculturalism that we are embracing at their behest.
Towards the end of a rather perfunctory discussion, Vincent Browne pondered where the left had gone wrong to allow space for the far right to emerge. In addressing a panel of corporate-financed NGOs and dysfunctional trade unions, all asking for tech censorship, he perhaps answered his own question.
One should be grateful of the enemies one makes, and in rattling our witless yet parasitical NGO class into mobilising against an as of yet inchoate populist right, our elites are showing themselves to be a lot more worried than they let on.
They are right to be.