2019 could be said to be a year of stocktaking for the Irish Right. The electoral rout of May 2018 showed a serious lack of support for the 8th amendment as well as the Catholic Right-wing that rallied around it through a variety of pro-life organisations. This older Catholic Right found itself morally compromised following the immolation of the Catholic Church in Ireland, as well as other societal factors that left it depleted.
Regardless, a reformulation of the tactics and ideologies employed by the Irish Right following the landslide is duly required and is something that has already started. Fortunately, at no time in recent history have there been so many groups co-existing on the the Right of the political spectrum, all battling it out to define the new pathway forward.
While the electoral impact of these groups is currently miniscule, the foundations are being set for future growth that will almost inevitably come to fruition sometime during the next decade. Among these contenders is the investigative journalist Gemma O’Doherty, a figure who until a few months ago would sooner have been considered of the political Left.
Indeed O’Doherty’s CV is hardly what you’d expect for someone now so popular with much of the Right, having earned her stripes as an investigative journalist and feature writer for the Irish Independent dealing with matters of abuse cover-ups and Garda corruption. Ascending to prominence following her dismissal from the Irish Independent, she later became a talisman for anti-water charges protests during their heyday in 2014.
Her fleeting presidential bid in 2018 was marked with controversy with claims concerning the murder of Veronica Guerin, as well as her rhetoric towards immigration on her Twitter and Youtube channel. On Youtube she began to distinguish herself further, opening up a new avenue for political evangelisation. Irish politics was always going to make the leap onto Youtube and digital platforms but it was O’Doherty as well as the bombastic GrandTorino who got there first, and thus are able to style the emerging online movement in their image.
An interesting development beginning a few months ago was the inclusion of John Waters, a Catholic conservative stalwart on her livestream. The juxtaposition of the two marked a rather unusual alliance pointing to the untapped potential of collaboration between the remains of the Right and O’Doherty’s new brand of anti-corruption populism which is difficult to label.
In the recent months following her presidential bid, O’Doherty has increasingly drifted to the anti-globalism and nationalism, becoming a prominent figure in the nascent yet potentially stillborn Irish Yellow Vest movement when she occupied the Google HQ briefly because of penalties imposed on her youtube channel.
On the 11th of March she launched her own Anti-Corruption Ireland citizen’s movement aiming to contest the looming May elections. The twenty point platform of her movement outlines many anti-globalist ideals including much on combating corruption and pro-family policies.
However, the inclusion of a policy point desiring to ban the HPV vaccine and investigate links between vaccines and childhood autism is worrying. It is here O’Doherty begins to sell herself short and threaten any hopes of her electoral and cultural success. The inclusion of what is commonly regarded as pseudoscience is a tactically shortsighted move on her part.
The issue of vaccination is an electorally pointless issue and leaves her exposed politically. O’Doherty could very well have become an Alex Jones type political and cultural figure trading in jaded conspiracy nonsense for a seat at the table in a newly emerging Right-wing media and political ecosystem. The anti-corruption/anti-globalist platform which she is outwardly standing on is solid by itself, but by nailing her colours to the mast of anti-vaccine rhetoric, O’Doherty is displaying a lack of political acumen.
Regardless, her new initiative is something that should be encouraged for the simple fact of the ire it generates from the Irish media establishment as well as the sycophantic footsoliders of globalism. O’Doherty’s launch on the 11th of March was harassed through a concerted effort by the radical Left and their backers to put pressure on the hotel in question to deplatform her.
For all her shortcomings, O’Doherty offers the potential for a new political avenue to be pursued by an embryonic anti-globalist movement in Ireland. While it is absolutely essential that some of the more unsavoury aspects of her platform around vaccines and political conspiracy must be separated from the Right in Ireland, she should be encouraged for her efforts.
The Irish Right is building itself from the bottom up at present after last May’s bruising referendum. O’Doherty, if nothing else, breaks the mould on the otherwise tired formula of conservative politics. While she may implode politically the savvy online methods employed by her will reflect on the Irish right in years to come.
I’m not particularly hopeful for O’Doherty’s political viability, and I’m certainly apprehensive about her otherwise stellar party platform being tainted by aimless anti-vaccine talking points. Ultimately she has the potential to be a crucial stepping stone in the nurturing of a populist movement in Ireland, warts and all.