The canon of Irish nationalism is replete with energised vanguards doing injury against an occupational and malign state. From Eoghan Ruadh Ó Néill to the Provisional movement, the pike has won the day over non-violent and certainly unromantic democratic methods and with good reason.
However, within this anthology lies the shattered lives of men and plots miscarried to the extreme and the resulting setbacks caused to separatist movements. The lesson is that you must have a correct reading of time and method before you even contemplate actions outside of the legal realm.
If Soloheadbeg had occurred in 1909 rather than 1919 Dan Breen would have been forgotten as a Fenian footnote culpable of the murder of members of a legitimate police force and condemned as such. Operation Harvest and the post-Omagh dissident republican movement has shown just about the extent to which an armed underground can go in a peacetime Western democracy without mass appeal.
With the history lesson out of the way it is worth drawing attention to the recent hit piece from the Sunday Times Irish edition bemoaning the yet under materialised ‘far right’ threat.
We know the drill at this stage, some out of context quotes, a pundit or two from the ISD or INAR and superficial narrative warning against extremism, and in that the article delivered in spades.
Aiming to portray those objecting to the Ukrainian refugees as akin to wanting the execution of elected officials, the subject of the piece was a Cork based activist doing much to rile the NGO left up in his campaigning.
To be clear, by and large the individual at the centre of the piece has done excellent work in highlighting the injustice of the influx in particular the prioritising of asylum seekers over Irish citizens. To that end we ought to wish him the best of luck. The Sunday Times piece can be taken as a gold star to his efforts with his plain speaking on the public airwaves breaching into the mainstream.
What the individual and many of those like him ought to be conscious of is that by insinuating violent threats against Irish politicians even jokingly they play right into the hands of the state and anti-nationalist forces, be they state or non-state actors. To be doubly clear, the state will take the first opportunity to grind you and us all into the dust if you give them enough rope to hang you.
Even without a clear right-wing terror threat the media-state-NGO trifecta has built an inchoate security apparatus able and willing to pursue and therein destroy the lives of anyone willing to cross certain boundaries.
Succinctly, they want a violent and feral far right underbelly to legitimise their existence and cripple more serious aspects of the populist right. Joking threats of real-world violence can and will be used to fasten the legal noose around you.
The first opportunity to poison the well on the nativist cause our media will be found pumping arsenic ,with Gardaí notoriously trigger happy around the protection of politicians as a legacy of the Troubles and Civil War. Don’t cite Bunreacht na hÉireann when detectives raid your house for posting clearly inciteful memes or videos targeted at politicians, the 26-county state has done one job well since 1922 and its terrorising the lives of challengers as republicans can attest.
As the Kinahans are mopped up and threat from post-Brexit dissident republicans disappates the state will eagerly turn its attention to a budding ‘far right threat’ real or imagined. You play high stakes when you threaten elected officials and not everyone realises this, even if the chance of actual violence negligible.
The past decade the UK and America offer numerous examples of naive groups playing into the state’s hands and sinking the chances of genuine anti-globalist fightbacks. The German state orchestrated an artificial neo-Nazi underground just to hamper the prospects of serious German nationalists.
While the calculus is different in Ireland here with a largely sedentary policing apparatus relative to the rest of the West the equation remains the same. The state wants useful idiots.
Unlikely, but a wet dream come true for the state and NGO left is if a cartoonish neo-nazi paramilitary appeared out of the blue and in front of the media gaze. Ridiculous attempts to spin the FBI operated Atomwaffen group as having an Irish presence should underline the lengths, they are willing to stoop.
A few points to take note of regarding the article in question.
1: The Times in both their UK and Irish variants are synonymous with their positive relationships with the UK and Irish intelligence and policing establishments. Indeed, the journalist behind the article John Mooney authored a book in conjunction with Special Branch members on the Continuity IRA. By his own admission on his podcasting platform and is usually expected of security correspondents, he is in regular contact with past and current Gardaí.
2: At the same time the Times Irish edition is bigging up the threat from the far right, their UK colleagues are working in conjunction with antifascist activists in carving up the remains of the British extreme right. Ireland is a small ecosystem and symbiotic relationships from journalists and the NGO left are to be expected.
3: This is the security writer with the Times rather than a specific lefty hack like Kitty Holland etc, drawing on testimonies from FBI adjacent counterterror experts. Similarly, the article references the far right in Ireland as being akin to jihadism of the 00/10s. If alarm bells haven’t started ringing, we are progressing beyond the point Aoife Gallagher is simply rolled out to whinge about racism on TikTok but into the serious and very frightful world of counterterrorism.
Violence at least in this historical epoch is not the answer and those with even the notion of conducting foolish acts ought to be slapped down by saner voices always and everywhere. We don’t have the odious pedigree of post-war British Nazism to make a spectacle of itself or even the economics of scale to enable an attempt at mimicry but the new blood post-lockdown embracing populism brings with it new problems.
What the political regime is dreading is an organic, well-grounded community led response to win the arguments and follow in the footsteps of the rest of Europe in forming a viable right opposition.
What they desire is a ghettoised madhouse of cranks torn asunder by Gardaí raids, lawfare and the occasional terror plot manufactured by nefarious actors buoyed on by the media.
Articles like this can only go so far but cool heads must prevail and nurture especially youthful individuals away from attempts to entrap them with political violence.
Arguments around housing, migration, energy, Europe and social policy are there for the winning if one is willing to endure the mundanity of the political and social circuit. The left and neoliberal junta is devoid of momentum in Ireland and elsewhere and the tectonics are shifting moving firmly and henceforth in our favour whatever kinks we collectively need to iron out.
The ramblings of Ciaran O’Connor or Lucy Michael won’t be able to explain away the catastrophe that mass migration and runaway asylum system has done to Irish townlands and communities. We offer them a political get out of jail card by conceding to headstrong impulses and will ultimately have the last laugh as politics shapes up this decade should we box clever.
The choice for this generation of Irish nationalists is not between John Mitchel or O’Connell nor the Officials or Provisionals. It is between the path leading to power in the long term or Portlaoise in the immediate term.
Let’s be clever about this.