By any reckoning, the events of the 13th of November at the Lough Erne Resort were a blunder for more serious thinking antifascist organisers in Ireland.
A freelance 30-person operation of Dublin antiracists linked up with nordie left-republicans, largely from the IRSP, the contingent set out with the intent of violently disrupting the ongoing National Party Ard Fheis.
Promptly ejected and running into the waiting arms of the PSNI, the failed attempt at squadism nonetheless landed multiple individuals in hospital following attacks on lone attendees in the car park.
Arriving by minibus and making little attempt to conceal their identities, the mixture of male and female antifascists started their troubles by entering the wrong entrance, carrying weapons including hammers, before being soundly overpowered and kicked to the curb. So amateurish the attack was that female attackers were even wearing skirts justling alongside morbidly obese antifascists and hammer carrying red grunts.
Hardly the second battle of Ebro.
Initially claiming the fiasco as a victory, it became apparent over the subsequent 48 hours that mainstream antifascist groups were facing both a PR and legal disaster. Normally able to bend the law when it comes to violent confrontation, trashing a luxury hotel with a bus load of armed activists in a post-conflict statelet that prioritises tranquillity was a step too far for even them and the authorities.
Facing multiple charges, including grievous bodily harm, as well as possession of an offensive weapon, Dublin-based antifascist Daniel Comerford appeared at the dock in Omagh on the 15th of November. The first of potentially many activists on trial, one wonders if the Fermanagh bandistas even thought of the ubiquitous CCTV present at the resort.
Representing the accused however was none other than Sinn Féin royalty and Belfast North MP John Finucane. A surprise, even considering the party’s established links with antifascism militancy in Ireland and Britain.
A legal eagle and party stalwart, Finucane has been resolute in denying any links with the Kinahan cartel. Nevertheless, Finucane and his company were named as having issued legal letters on behalf of Daniel Kinahan against media outlets linking the current Qatari resident to organised crime.
A party talisman and arguably the number three man at the helm of the party, his involvement with Comerford begs more questions than answers, many unfortunately beyond the pale of this publication due to defamation law.
How did an alleged hammer wielding Dublin antifascist on a day trip up North land himself with one of the most prestigious and politically connected lawyers in the six counties?
While the involvement of the IRSP alone in the Lough Erne attack points to the dodgy confluence of narco politics, spookery and left republicanism which provides the backbone to physical force antifascism, Finucane’s involvement points to a rather deeper game at play.
Two years shy of a probable Sinn Féin government, there is no doubt that the party is already looking over its shoulder against the inchoate nationalist right in Ireland, north and south.
Regardless of Finucane’s proactive assertions that he has no links to organised crime or the endless Shinner bashing in the Irish press, there is no doubting the underworld nature of huge chunks of the Sinn Féin political machine.
Emerging from the jungle of communitarian warfare in the North and the realpolitik of the peace process, Sinn Féin is far removed from the white-collar progressive class who govern Fine Gael or the chancers of yesteryear Fianna Fáil. A party which ran counterintelligence networks and an armed wing until the day before yesterday is not the standard issue for Western European politics.
As typified by the East Wall protests and the spiralling asylum crisis bleeding onto our streets, we are facing an accelerated timeline when it comes to the emergence of right-wing populism. Leinster House has copped to the fact that formerly serene liberal nations have birthed nativist movements almost overnight, and expect something similar to arrive here the decade coming.
The role post-Troubles dissident republicans once played as a peripheral force in Irish politics will henceforth be played by the dissident right with augmented stakes.
The shadowy forces behind the curtain in Irish politics would sooner instigate our very own Years of Lead than concede to even mild nationalist demands. With Britainnia and her spooks heading south of the border under the guise of the Shared Ireland initiative, expect the security war against the populist right to be one of the defining features of a Sinn Féin administration.
As to left republicanism, having been effectively grown in an ideological lab by Marxist academics to subvert Irish nationalism expect it to continue onward in doing the system’s dirty work and getting bailed out thereafter.
By northern standards the fracas at Lough Erne was relatively mild but despite its botched nature, it points to the darkening of our skies as Sinn Féin enter into power.
Cut the surface of this island’s politics and you see a labyrinth of criminality only two degrees of separation away from political parties and intelligence agencies. It is this minefield that the nationalist right in Ireland is now only beginning to take its first hesitative steps toward. Rest assured we are now swimming with sharks.