the far-right using anger over the housing crisis as a cover for racism and hate
In this article we write about the fringe far-right agitators who are instilling fear & spreading lies
People are at breaking point as the cost-of-living crisis deepens and we face down another recession. Anger in working
class communities is palpable and the far-right have found a situation they can exploit, just like they did during COVID-19
The ordinary person will get understandably angry at situations unfolding and, in many cases, will look to find someone or
something to blame. It is quite literally a battle to win the minds of working-class people and the far-right know this. It did
seem, for a few days at least, that they were winning but when the left got organised and fought back, the far-right retreated.
They were exposed and their violent, hateful ways were shown to the world. Such actions marginalise the far-right as
ordinary, concerned locals were horrified to see that those leading the way at these protests are hateful, and sometimes
violent, racists who offer nothing productive.
Since the end of last year, the far-right have managed to stir up hate and racism in working class communities. People's
legitimate anger at being left behind by successive governments has allowed the far-right to exploit that anger and twist it.
Migrants have been placed in emergency accommodation in working class areas that already lack basic services. Such
decisions by the government are deliberately divisive.
The far-right are targeting temporary accommodation where refugees and asylum seekers are staying, claiming that they're
"illegal". Let's get some things clear here, under UN law, nobody is illegal. Once you enter Ireland you're processed through
the asylum system, therefore you're vetted (more on that later). Also, it is not illegal to seek refuge or asylum here in Ireland
so by that definition, and to state as such, is a blatant lie.
The far-right also keep repeating the same phrase over and over: "Unvetted, foreign males of military age". This is a
meaningless sound bite used to cause fear and distrust of migrants. Again, given that these people are processed through
our system, it means they're not "unvetted".
Military aged males, where to begin with this one? I, the writer of this piece, am what one would consider to be a "military
aged man". If I worked in the private sector, I would technically be unvetted too. We need to be honest about the terminology,
it's designed to be divisive. It's designed to whip up fear of foreigners. It's a blatant racist dog whistle term used to try to
make us fear "foreign" men, as if "foreign" men are *more* of a danger than Irish men just because they're foreign.
Which brings us to the next point. The murder of women in Ireland had been linked, by the far-right, to migrant men. The
majority of women murdered by men are murdered by men they know, in their own home. The issue is of violence against
women, not migrant men against Irish women or anything like it. The far-right speak about migrants as being a danger to
women as if the problem of violence against women didn't exist in Ireland before immigration. Of course, this is nonsense.
Gender based violence, sexism and misogyny are all linked to a system that treats women like second class citizens.
Sexism and misogyny is ingrained in society.
Furthermore, the far-right do not care about "protecting women". The same people are vehemently opposed to abortion
rights and want to drag us back to the dark ages of catholic Ireland where a woman's place was in the home and her societal
role was to make babies and be subservient to her husband. That is the reality they want, don't fall for their nonsense.
One of the claims by the far-right is that migrants are being housed before "our own". In conversations with one friend, this
writer was told that "foreigners stay in a hotel for a few weeks then they're given a free house somewhere". This is completely
baseless and untrue and the person making this claim couldn't back it up in any way. It was pure hearsay and such lies are
spread to reinforce racist arguments. It's completely untrue because there are literally no homes available for anybody.
Now let's look at housing and how we got here in January 2023. At present in the 26 counties, there are somewhere in the
region of 166,000 empty homes. Ireland's biggest landlords are Vulture Funds. Developers, along with Vultures and local
Councils are sitting on huge land banks and they're allowing whole housing estates and apartment blocks lay empty. Why
you may ask? Well, if you sit on land long enough, as a crisis deepens, the value of that land goes up as available land
becomes scarcer. It is quite literally manufactured scarcity, a by-product of capitalism. The motivation behind this is pure
When you have a government made up largely of landlords then you have a vested interest in the commodification of the
housing market meaning that it's in the interest of landlord TDs to ensure house prices and rents go up. In the lifetime of Fine
Gael's 12 years in government, the housing crisis has reached unwanted record levels, but the problems began much way
As Ireland came out of the darkness of the 80's there was an upturn in the economy meaning more working-class people had
a little more money than before. This was seen as an opportunity by Fianna Fáil to move people from council homes into
private homes with starter mortgages.
The perceived "upwardly mobile" working class people got council mortgages in sprawling suburbs and moved to private
housing estates. In their absence in council estates, they were replaced by working class families who had lived in poverty in
the inner cities ravaged by societal issues and drugs. This ghettoised some areas that already lacked basic necessities and
compounded many people to generational poverty. As people's material circumstances got better as the 90's rolled on,
councils allowed people in council estates to buy their homes if they wished.
There is of course nothing wrong with this and in lieu of long-term secure rents, there were few other alternatives. However,
this led to local authorities selling off social housing stock. Why is this important though? Because councils never replaced
the stock they sold. They never built council areas to the same level they had in the previous generations.
Housing in the 90's became privatised, and the availability of council homes became more scarce. The political, neoliberal
decisions of past governments have led us directly to our current housing crisis. It's important to understand this as it gives
context to why we have a housing crisis.
The far-right hashtag #IrelandIsFull is something that must be tackled too. Ireland is not full. With 166,000 empty homes,
there are enough homes to house everyone who is homeless, everyone in emergency accommodation, everyone in Direct
Provision etc, with tens of thousands of homes to spare.
Of course, acquiring these homes is a legal minefield and would take years as our laws uphold the rights of Vultures and
venture capitalists above the rights of individuals to have access to a permanent home. There's no quick fix, certainly not as
long as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil continue to cobble together a government with a vested interest in the commodification of
housing. This doesn't mean it can't be done.
The only thing Ireland is full of is empty homes, derelict homes, hotels, Vulture Funds, venture capitalists and greedy
landlords. We've had a housing crisis for decades and, as outlined above, it's root cause goes back to the 80's. The current
crisis has been made worse by 12 years of Fine Gael ruling with the help of Fianna Fáil. Migrants haven't caused the
housing crisis, successive governments have.
But what of those who are stirring up this vitriolic abuse aimed at the less fortunate? While some locals have been won over
in different communities by the far-right, it's evident that the far-right are the main instigators in every community. Online
agitators and their supporters are travelling from different parts of the country to whip up hate.
The explicitly fascist National Party and their hateful leader Justin Barrett are some of the main instigators. Their members
are known for violence and model themselves on Hitler's Brownshirts and Mussolini's Blackshirts. The NP were founded by
Barrett, a former prominent member of Catholic fundamentalist group Youth Defence. The NP have a small support base, as
exposed in all the elections they have ran candidates in so far, but their influence is far-reaching online through baseless lies
and anonymous accounts.
The Irish Freedom Party, run by Herman Kelly are another group at the heart of these protests. Kelly is former editor of the
right-wing newspaper The Catholic and, despite claiming to be an "Irish Patriot", was press officer for right-wing charlatan
Nigel Farrage. Again, the IFP is small in numbers, but their online activities are similar to that of the NP.
Both groups know how to whip up hate online. They're aided by Gript, who's main editor, John McGuirk, is a well known
right-wing commentator and perpetual loser having been on the wrong side of numerous significant social movements in
recent years. Theliberal.ie is another website that helps spread misinformation, lies and fear. Leo Sherlock, the founder of
the far-right website, comes from a not-so-delightful family who all dabble in the dark arts of far-right politics.
So how can we counter this constant barrage of hateful lies? We need to be firm and constantly point to the real enemy - The
government, the Vultures, the corporate landlords and the whole capitalist class. They're the enemy of migrants and refugees
and they're the enemy of the working class. Their drive for profit and their desperation to gain more financial capital is to the
detriment of human progress.
We need a broad front, as Revolutionary Socialist Leon Trotsky wrote about, just as fascism was beginning to rise in Italy
and Germany. We need a united front, a cross section of society made up of, but not exclusive to, community groups, trade
unions, radical-left political parties, social democrats, sports clubs, social clubs etc. We need to be united in our strategies
and we need to challenge these racist liars head on, both on social media and on the streets. We need to show strength in
numbers in the face of hateful protests and we need to be consistent in our arguments and be assured in our solutions. The
role of revolutionaries within this movement cannot be understated. We have the convictions to win over working-class
people to our arguments.
While more than 12,000 people are homeless, while 166,000 homes lay empty and while Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil remain
in power, there is no political will to get a solution to the housing crisis. There is another way and it's not through hate and
division, it's through solidarity and Socialism.
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