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Immigration has reawakened Ireland’s dormant Right

The anti-immigration response has become increasingly coordinated. Credit: Getty

May 6, 2024 - 4:00pm

J.R.R. Tolkien once noted that there was something malign about the Irish landscape, a darkness only held in check by the faith of its inhabitants. Preposterous or not, it’s hard to deny that a dark spirit has recently been unleashed in the Irish countryside. As resistance to the housing of migrants in towns across the country has grown, it has become forceful in a way unthinkable even a few years ago, as illustrated by the historically massive anti-immigration march taking place in Dublin today.

Whether it is mysterious fires, protestors marching behind a banner saying “we will not be replaced”, footage of builders being menaced in Aughrim or “Irish Only or the House Burns” graffiti on council houses, what strikes the onlooker is how direct, aggressive and coordinated the anti-immigration response is.

In the pre-Ukraine era, the absence of such activism in Ireland, and Right-wing politics generally, was often celebrated. The official line was that the Irish history of emigration and colonialism made us uniquely resistant to these sentiments. This claim has now been stress-tested and found to be untrue. Could it be that our history makes such a response not impossible, but inevitable?

Anti-immigration activists would certainly say so, as they have embraced elements of Irish history sidelined by mainstream commentators. These activists consistently refer to the housing of asylum seekers as “plantation centres” and of migrants being “planted” in rural communities, evoking memories of Irish people being driven off their land during the 17th century so that it could be given to loyalist settlers. The comparison may be spurious and the Irish establishment has resisted it, but it’s also pretty obvious. The plantations are among the most powerful images that can be invoked in Irish culture. Respectable opinion has been wrong-footed by protesters’ employment of rhetoric that is partly anticolonial in nature, and that leverages elements of the struggle for Irish nationhood.

Another obvious point of comparison for the current turmoil that both sides have resisted are the agrarian secret societies that flourished in Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries. These oathsworn gangs of poor rural Catholics (Protestant versions also existed) acted against unfair land practices including evictions, and the collection of tithes for the Anglican Church. The most famous example were the Whiteboys, so-called because of the white smocks they wore. The Whiteboys were known to hobble cattle, destroy property, and send threatening letters written under pseudonyms such as “Captain Moonlight”. The groups were not entirely secret and often staged public marches and parades. Whiteboyism became sufficiently troubling to the British government at the end of the 18th century that it provoked a harsh military response, as well as a number of Parliamentary acts.

Land and property are central factors in how Irish people see themselves, their country and their history. Their centrality has only increased in the era of housing crises and mass immigration. Many Irish would be scandalised at the thought of comparing what is happening now to historic resistance to landlordism and enforced displacement, and of course the two things don’t map perfectly.

But far from being unknown, direct and violent action on these topics where it seems that locals are being treated unfavourably or resources are being concentrated in the hands of outsiders are very common in Irish history. Denials to the contrary always had a panicked edge. Beyond “point and sputter” respectable opinion has been unable to think of a new response to activists effectively leveraging Irish history in a forbidden way.

Indeed, there is no obvious one, short of turning off the internet and conducting mass arrests. Intentionally or not, forces that were happily dormant have stirred again. Now roused, it will be hard to send them back to sleep.


Conor Fitzgerald is a writer from Dublin. His Substack is TheFitzstack.

fitzfromdublin

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El Uro
El Uro
17 days ago

Indeed there is no obvious one, short of turning off the internet and conducting mass arrests – Beautiful idea, but I want to apply it to media and authorities

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
17 days ago

The Irish are being faced with the ‘reality’ of the real World .. having hidden behind neutralism and victimhood for a 100 years.
Who could have foreseen that migrants entering their country would have been the catalyst, to hopefully, bringing an end to their denial of the real World.

David Ryan
David Ryan
16 days ago

Yes we know nothing about the “real world” Richard. Wouldn’t have a clue, would we? Simplistic argument. Like I’ve said on here, don’t mistake the garbage that our elites have been coming out with for the last few years for the opinions of most ordinary people

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
17 days ago

Yes good article. Id welcome a little nuance on the question of immigration. We have a mix of EU migrants with every right to live and work here and enjoy access to social housing and social services. We also have people on work permits who contribute enormously and refugees who are in many hotels/guest houses at tax payer expense and deeply damaging to the local economy as the government contracts replaced private enterprise. It is this in particular which has enraged people. They also wabt to build modular housing for refugees. In effect this would allow them to have a home and family life effectively denied many low paid Irish earners who cant afford to have a family here. This is why people are raging.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
17 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

refugees who are in many hotels/guest houses at tax payer expense

These are humans are Refugees! The Anglo world took in Irish refugees for centuries but they get apoplectic over some hungry and starved people trying to find a home. Disgraceful….

Arthur G
Arthur G
17 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The Irish came to the US to work, not live on the dole.

Ian_S
Ian_S
17 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Since the Irish remaining in Ireland are “first nations people”, why is it disgraceful when they, as indigenous people, resist the colonisation and occupation of their land at the whim of colonising globalists who are opening the immigration floodgates as a weapon against people they despise? If other indigenous people are fawned over by globalist progressives for their “decolonisation” rhetoric, why not the Irish? And don’t give some racist CRT rubbish that boils down to inane “white people are evil” drivel. We more or less know why: globalist cultural elites see ordinary people as insufficiently servile (not kowtowing to the rainbow flag and other crimes against progressiveness), so their ways of life have to be smashed.

Muiris de Bhulbh
Muiris de Bhulbh
17 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I don’t normally respond to anonymous comments, but this needs rebuttal.
There is growing cynicism in Ireland about the veracity of the plight of many (the Africans being only the most visible), who have to cross several safe countries to come to Ireland. I know personally of some, who have been able to go home, sometimes on more than one occasion (often the occasion being a new child).
The ‘Anglo World’, at least arguably caused the Irish to be refugees through economic control of Ireland at the time. As for ‘taking them in’, ‘No Irish Need Apply’ was a well rehearsed line in New York Times classifieds from 1850s on.
So, spare me your platitudes.

alan jones
alan jones
17 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Third world scum, rapists, peadophiles etc. Such enrichment

Sam Hill
Sam Hill
17 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

If you don’t mind my asking – why have you put two diametrically opposed posts on the thread right next to each other?

As to the Irish and recent issues – it’s just fairweather globalisation. I see nothing novel really. The Irish, like the British, French et al all love globalisation when they get the sweet end and hate when it goes against them. The only difference really is the Irish haven’t always been as forthright about their wish for fairweather globalisation.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
17 days ago
Reply to  Sam Hill

We are two different readers. I posted the original post ( confusing i know). I would like to add one furtger point. A huge proportion of new housing in ireland is either build to rent ( approx 30%) or social housing ( 30%). The councils are buying both new builds and old council houses also. This huge supply of social houses is going to become massively politicised over the comong years. Arguments over who gets these houses at the stroke of a beurocrats pen is going to create huge division, bad feeling and conflict. There are also “affordable housing” and “cost rental” options. But when the average worker cannot buy how will tjey divy up a socialised housing stock. Again we see the market being usurped by government spending ( just as happened when they put huge numbers of refugees in hotels). We need to get back to allowing the free market to function..nobody makes this argument in ireland. Every politician and media outlet are only talking about building moresocial housing etc. Its a disaster

Ian_S
Ian_S
16 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

UnHerd Reader #1, perhaps go into your account and give yourself a name. It avoids confusion and aids others here. It’s another negative of UnHerd’s choice of website platform, that it allows this.

Sam Hill
Sam Hill
16 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Thank you – I honestly didn’t know that is how the platform works. The possibility of ‘doppelgangers’ really is not a good thing.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
16 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It really would help if you would differentiate your name from the other UHerd Reader.
You make a very good point about the “social housing”. It doesn’t make sense to combine social welfare supports and large scale immigration. The only options are to raise taxes or abandon the devotion to helping those in need. But this is a democracy and I don’t think the voters would be happy with either solution. So the immigration must be cut way back. Or the democracy.
Here in the States we took in vast numbers of immigrants. But they came to work. There never was any government help for them and they knew what they were getting into. Unfortunately, that’s begun to change. Legal immigrants can bring over their whole families, who are then eligible for food stamps and Medicaid. Stay tuned for future developments.

William Cameron
William Cameron
16 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Refugees from what ? UK ? France ?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
17 days ago

The dark spirit the author refers to is in fact the stupidity or malignancy of the policy makers who have assumed that massive levels of immigration will continue to be welcomed despite the evidence that other countries afford. Eventually the worm is inclined to turn whatever the country concerned.

Sam Hill
Sam Hill
17 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

No – they don’t care if it’s welcomed. They are assuming massive levels of migration because it is a direct choice. What to do about this is another matter.

El Uro
El Uro
17 days ago

The anti-immigration response has become increasingly coordinated. – By Russians, no doubt.
In the pre-Ukraine era – Nice! Ukrainians are guilty. No word about illegal invaders from absolutely other countries.
.
PS. I am appalled by the intellectual cowardice and hypocrisy of both the author and many commenters here.
This is very reminiscent of a story that happened recently in Sweden, where in a comedy program an Iranian-born woman joked about Ukrainian women in Sweden who are invisible because they work a lot in brothels. When this caused a wave of indignation, she categorically refused to apologize and was supported by her boss, also a woman, who stated that this program is dedicated to jokes, including jokes about ethnic stereotypes.
Which, as you understand, is quite acceptable, but only in relation to white people.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
17 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

Where do you idiots come up with this nonsense?

Ian_S
Ian_S
17 days ago

Where do you come up with yours?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
16 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Blame cheap wine.

El Uro
El Uro
17 days ago

Google it, un cretino 🙂

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
17 days ago

The commons are rising up. Europeans are fearful of mass immigration, particularly that of Islamic origin due to its strong religious imperative and its refusal to assimilate.
There is a general perception that if you are a minority or a victim of some kind you will be given more state support than if you are native-born, hence the rise of victimhood narratives and identity politics (based on gender, sexual tastes, ethnicity, and skin color).
Faith in politicians is at an all-time low. Their double standard of permitting and even encouraging tribalist thinking in everyone but ‘white’ people is no longer holding up. Their words carry little weight and they are seen as pied (paid) pipers in thrall to a crypto-elite whose main purpose seems to be the erasure of old societal safeguards in order to bring about a soulless global culture that enriches them by impoverishing others.
None of our institutions are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Instead of being supportive they have become extractive in that instead of truly helping the vulnerable, they use the vulnerable as a stick to browbeat populations into weary submission. This state of affairs cannot last, and unless something changes, we will be entering our very own Western Spring.

Victor James
Victor James
17 days ago

Sorry, words are meaningful. This is not ‘anti-immigrant’. It is anti-colonisation.
Ireland is being colonised. Calling anti-colonisation efforts as ‘anti-immigrant’ says everything about the authors position.

Aidan Twomey
Aidan Twomey
17 days ago
Reply to  Victor James

A bunch of raggle-taggle Nigerians in tents with no money and no power is not colonisation.
US Tech firms and NGOs with liberal employees from all over the WEIRD world with enormous money and influence, that is colonisation. For the first time since it was ruled from Dublin Castle, Ireland has a tribe in charge that the common people absolutely loathe.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
16 days ago
Reply to  Aidan Twomey

Always said at the beginning. It’s not happening. It’s happening but a very small number. They will integrate. They wont integrate but it doesnt matter. It’s good for us anyway. it’s bad for us but we deserve it. It’s too late now to do anything about it.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
17 days ago
Reply to  Victor James

Yeah, poor refugees are “colonizing” Ireland. I guess much like Irish refugees “colonized” the US and Canada and Australia and Jamaica and the UK.

Ian_S
Ian_S
17 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

“Refugees” is a spin word used by globalists who use these people in massive immigration ponzi schemes that globalists increase their wealth from. Read Piketty. In US, Canada, and Australia, there are huge decolonisation movements now, egged on by social justice warriors such as yourself. Why should Ireland not resist too?

David L
David L
17 days ago

About time the right woke up, everywhere.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
17 days ago

I am enjoying all the going’s on in Ireland I must say.
For the last 8 years it’s been held up as an example of everything those knuckle dragging, Brexit voting Brits aren’t. It was supposed to be this tolerant, cosmopolitan, forward thinking utopia, yet their first dealings they have with asylum seekers (a problem Brits have been dealing with for 20 years) and they’ve resorted to violence and a majority now wanting checkpoints set up on the border with Northern Ireland

David McKee
David McKee
17 days ago

Far right? Ha! A century and a half ago, their spiritual forefathers were described, accurately, as Irish nationalists.

The protests are where the post-independence interpretation of Irish history has come to bite the Irish in the rear end. The victors of the War of Independence had every incentive to blacken British rule as a brutal colonialism, to justify separation from Britain at gunpoint. It was altogether more nuanced than that.

The protestors are using the simplistic goodies vs baddies narrative to cast the Dublin elite as the new colonial oppressors. Good luck to the elite, as they try to wriggle off the hook they themselves have fashioned.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
17 days ago

If Ireland had the same population density as Singapore, it could support a population of approximately 725,000,000 people. Obviously, it is not quite full yet.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
16 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

It’s full enough for us. Plus we look around at other European countries and see the deviation mass African and Islamic immigration brings. Every time. We say enough. No more. Stop it now or we will revolt. It’s too late for the UK or France or Belgium. Not for us.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
17 days ago

What is “respectable opinion”? Is it the open-borders crowd in Brussels and the metropolitan elites?

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
16 days ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

“Respectable opinion” are the people who agree with me.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
17 days ago

Sure doesn’t look like “historically massive” crowd to me. More like a few hundred racists on a day out, much like their English brethren who enjoy pissing on war memorials, drinking lager and pretending to fight the police. How long until Laurence Fox shows up?

Ian_S
Ian_S
17 days ago

Out waving the flag for the global ruling class again I see, CS. Have any of them given you a penny or a pat on the head for your efforts?

William Cameron
William Cameron
16 days ago

Which part of leafy Surrey is your Parents house that you live in ?

Matt M
Matt M
17 days ago

It’s worse than you think. The Irish have just signed up to an EU wide deal on relocating immigrants landing in southern Europe to member states. Given this pool of people is inexhaustible, the Irish share will run into the tens of thousands.

And that is before you have the illegals fleeing Britain to avoid repatriation or a one way flight to Rwanda.

Plus the asylum seekers and holiday visa absconders that fly directly to Dublin.

Plus the fact that every EU citizen – including the freshly minted ones (and Brits for that matter) can rock up in Ireland and live as a local.

And just wait for the Irish government to offer asylum to any Palestinian that wants it.

Time to stock up on shares in tent manufacturers!

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
17 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

Or balaclavas.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
16 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

Or shares in machete suppliers.

D Glover
D Glover
16 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

And that is before you have the illegals fleeing Britain to avoid repatriation or a one way flight to Rwanda.

Well that isn’t going to happen. The policy won’t be implemented by civil servants. It will be resisted by NGOs, charities, activist lawyers and activist judges. The coaches will be blocked by demonstrators and have their tyres slashed. Then the police won’t arrest anyone.
And, we’re only months away from a Labour government. Starmer’s method to stop the boats is to replace them with safe and legal routes.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
16 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

So there will be 2x-3x legal alien scum? This is not a good thing.

Matt M
Matt M
16 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

I suspect that Starmer will sign us up to the EU migrant distribution scheme in return for France taking back any dinghy travellers. So we will go from 30-40k arrivals a year in Dover to 100k?, 200k? a year through the sharing scheme with no end in sight.

Martin Dunford
Martin Dunford
17 days ago

The Irish “right”. So organized they have no leader, headquarters, web site, publication(s), published agenda, manifesto, radio station. Are they all hidden in the woods somewhere goose stepping in the moonlight?

William Cameron
William Cameron
16 days ago

It is not unreasonable to object tto uninvited people who have arrived from perfectly safe EU countries being given houses – when your own kids cannot get a house.

William Cameron
William Cameron
16 days ago

Luxury beliefs are beliefs that you espouse to look good – while the consequences are born by others.

R S Foster
R S Foster
16 days ago

…the Authoritarian Left have pulled off two extraordinary propaganda tricks since WW2…and the idea that “blood and soil” nationalism is somehow progressive as opposed to exclusionary is one of them…the second, of course, is to make us all forget that Hitler led a National SOCIALIST Party…disgraceful, but pretty clever…

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
16 days ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Only progressive for the Celtic fringe.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
16 days ago

The forceful imposition of millions of illegals scum in country after country is going to have a violent and bloody end. These are invaders, and they must be removed, one way or another.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
16 days ago

The problem is that the Irish government is seen not to serve the electorate anymore but the progressive, globalist EU and the UN. The disastrous referendum was a UN project and they got wiped.

The EU migration pact we don’t need to sign at all. If we do we are on the hook for 30k plus African and Muslim men a year and massive penalties if we refuse them. Why sign it?

The catastrophically bad justice minister Helen po face is desperate to introduce a seriously dystopian hate speech law to silence political criticism of her open border plans.

However, we have finally woken up. We don’t want the failed African and Muslim multicultural experiment of Belgium, Britain, France or Sweden anywhere near here.

We say no! And we mean it.

Mister Smith
Mister Smith
16 days ago

Ireland is a small island. It’s reasonable that the people there wish to preserve their culture, plus hope that their future prospects and tranquility can withstand apparently endless and unlimited immigration. However, in my opinion, Ireland will be a majority African and Muslim land in 25-30 years. The process is already underway. In future decades, remaining ethnic Irish may find some niche in their former homeland, and history will move on.

M XP
M XP
15 days ago

Also there are some Irish traditions of burning houses out as a political act – firing the Anglo-Irish Ascendency’s “big house” common post the Irish War of Independence. Some describing this as ethnic cleansing… Obviously, other opinions are available.