In the Irish Republic there were 307 anti-migrant protests in 2022, while in 2023 there have already been 64 demonstrations. The far-right protest outside asylum reception cases, scaring and intimidating the people inside, including families.
Niall McConnell, leader of the Irish Nationalist Catholic Party, claims “The indigenous Irish are being racially discriminated against.” In reference to England’s colonisation of Ireland in the 16th and 17th centuries, where land was seized and settlers were brought in to ‘anglicise’ the local population, McConnell asserts, “History is repeating itself. The blood of our holy martyrs seeps the Irish soil. The indigenous Irish will continue in our ancestors' footsteps. We will oppose this new plantation as they did in the past. God save Ireland." he continued, "Any resources available in Ireland should be given to the indigenous Irish people first,” suggesting free housing, social welfare, health care and education should be taken away for migrants.
Aoife Gallagher, an analyst at ISD Global thinktank pointed out that, “The far right has been able to rally support by tapping into people's very real grievances”. Anti-migrant protests have been most common in “ignored and deprived” areas, says researcher Aoife Gallagher – which also happens to be where asylum-seekers are disproportionately housed. "The far right is a mixture of the reactionary forces in response to these liberal changes in the country… and the old school Catholic conservatives,” she said. The far-right is ultimately a byproduct of Ireland’s failed political system that has failed to get to grips with the multi-pronged crisis gripping the country, claims Gallagher.
Brian Killoran of the Immigrant Council, links the growth of the far right to several crises gripping Ireland, including a housing emergency and crumbling health services, traced back to the 2008 recession and the period of austerity that followed.
“The far right is a lightning rod,” he explained. “They are harnessing dissatisfaction in communities and blaming migrants when actually there are much bigger structural problems.” He said the movement was losing sight of the “bigger picture” and proposing “simplistic and short-term solutions”.
Attitudes towards immigrants in Ireland are among the least positive in Europe. Among Irish-born adults, some 58% support white foreigners moving to the country, but only 41% for Muslims and 25% for Roma people, according to a study by the Economic and Social Research Institute.