Note: This article was amended on the 8th of April to clarify aspects of the legal disputes which have and are occurring as well as individuals involved.
The world and NUIG in particular woke up to yet another MeToo scandal this week within the ranks of Irish Trotskyism, as another senior PBP activist was put against the wall in the face of uncouth conduct towards women.
The allegations centre around vice auditor of PBP in NUIG, Cian Mortimer, as well as candidate for Welfare Officer for the student union, who publicly admitted to and was subsequently denounced by his party for taking improper pictures of women.
In a since deleted social media post, Mortimer admitted to taking an inappropriate picture of a woman without her permission while under the age of 18, describing it as his grappling with his own sexuality at the time. In addition he mentioned his apology was pre-emptive in the face of the woman in question coming forward.
Following on from this and from their official Twitter account, People Before Profit issued a statement condemning Mortimer for his actions. The statement, originally not naming Mortimer, was amended to include his name. This occurred following a backlash from those claiming the PBP branch was obfuscating his identity in a bid to protect predators.
Previously a rising star within the party, as well as a feature of the local antifascist scene with GARN (Galway Against Racism Network), formerly headed up by the disgraced Joe Loughnane, Mortimer came to our attention recently due to his spearheading of a deplatforming initiative at the college, as reported on by The Burkean just last week.
Aiming to explicitly ban various right-wing groups from a platform on NUIG, including anti-trans feminists, the motion was severely watered down following a SU debate, where many students called into question its excessiveness.
Aside from attempts at deplatforming opponents with the assistance of the SU, Mortimer came to prominence over his entanglements with the Simeon Burke. A family of conservative Christians, the Burkes came to national attention due to NUIG’s attempt to ban them from student life due to their stance against same sex marriage.
Last month Mortimer became a brief cause célèbre for the campus Left, on account of legal drama between himself, the university and Simeon Burke. It was over a meme of his directed at a member of the family, Simeon Burke, ironically deemed as hate speech by the college. Anxious to avoid further legal turbulence, Mortimer was asked to delete the meme, thus giving rise to the hashtag #FreeCian and further legal threats being issued to additional college publications for their reporting on the matter.
Those with longer memories may recall that this is not the first time the tempestuous world of Galwegian Trotskyism was laid bare following the political immolation of Joe Loughnane. Loughnane, a PBP candidate for Galway and NUIG regular, had his political career smashed to bits, alongside the phone of his then partner, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, following on from public accusations of improper conduct towards said partner. Incidentally, Nic Lochlainn is now Vice President of the NUIGSU.
In the subsequent weeks, further insight into Loughnane’s behaviour emerged with tapes of him admitting to allegedly running drugs being made public, as well as various PBP members documenting alleged incidents of sexual harassment covered up by the party hierarchy.
PBP itself is increasingly tarred with having a sordid attitude towards internal victims of abuse, with many on the Irish Left accusing it of a culture of coverup. In September this magazine reported on various accusations to do with abused women relating to the party’s housing activism in South-West Dublin.
On the whole, the allegations levelled against Mortimer, while relatively minor, point to a rather hypocritical nature within the party, vis-à-vis the treatment of women. A party that makes hay out of chastising others, including social conservatives, about its attitude towards women has arguably the highest density of abusers within its number.
Beyond this passing university fracas, every indicator points to rising dysfunctionality within the ranks of the Irish Left severely undermining their political striking capability, as working relationships between the genders become untenable. The radical Right may still remain an electoral and cultural footnote, but against such babyish opponents anything can happen this decade. Especially as the way is cleared out on account of maladjusted personality types flocking to the red banner.