Today’s targeting of Kellie Harrington for mild views on immigration and the sin of sharing a GBNews article is the latest sign of a losing streak by the status quo in the attempt to reestablish dominance on a shifting public narrative that has left them in the dirt.
Since protests against the asylum industry began late last year, Official Ireland has been head-scratching on what to do as the immigration question trampled past a crumbling cordon sanitaire. The genuinely organic expression of working-class anger on the nation’s streets has sent heads spinning and pulses racing both in Dáil Eireann and within the NGO complex as a fallback strategy is sought.
Direct action in conjunction with criminal elements resulted in legal acrimony as a sitting Sinn Féin MP was forced to bail out antifascist protests in the wake of the Fermanagh attacks. Attempts to hotwire a “grassroots” antiracist movement looked superficial next to the mountain of state support with supposedly workable coalitions falling flat amid infighting.
Deplatforming has merely energised the populist right into creating dynamic communication networks, while ad hoc and erroneous attempts to link the protests to political loyalism with the Tommy Robinson visit have fallen on deaf ears.
Seen by most normal people as harassment of an Olympian for mild views, the pile-on (helped by Fianna Fáil, senators no less) is just an extra notch against our political regime. Tied at the hip to the government to whom it provides many media advisors, it is no surprise that the banal passive-aggressive questioning came from Newstalk’s OffTheBall outlet.
With Harrington likely to lose her sponsorship despite retractions, the entire saga was a silly venture for the NGO complex, and many on their side of the aisle realise it.
Stitched together with more American funny money than a collapsing Silicon Valley Bank, civil society groups in Ireland have tried to quarantine contrarian views on immigration.
The powers that be would ideally love a neo-nazi pinup figure to vent frustration on instead of a photogenic working-class 33-year-old gold medalist to drive nativism into the institutional abyss, but so far, the opportunity has been lacking.
The Harrington cancellation is indicative of a broader struggle for legitimacy that right-wing views are facing in the face of a farcical unipolar consensus on issues that are at least challenged in most European countries. The chinks in Official Ireland’s institutional armour are showing through with campaigns like this futile in the face of wider changes at play and underlying social crises.
No matter how many sponsorship deals the regime targets, it’s simply not escaping from the reality that the horse has not only well and truly bolted on the migration issue but that metaphorical horse has been killed, melted down and turned into glue by marauding Congolese asylum seekers for all of Ireland to witness on WhatsApp courtesy of the latest Philip Dwyer exposé.
Containment strategies like these fail when they collide with the living reality of situations. Official Ireland, whatever hat it wears, doesn’t have the tact and political conditions to keep the issue of immigration away from scrutiny, with this week’s Harrington cancellation emblematic of stopgap measures being unemployed.
The tide is shifting. Push on.