Eurosceptics and ‘far right’ fail in Irish election

Last week’s general election in the Republic of Ireland produced a historic victory for Sinn Féin, political wing of the terrorist IRA, and H&D readers would have to examine the small print of the election results closely to discover the fate of Eurosceptic, socially conservative, let alone ‘far right’ candidates and parties. (The Irish elections are under the STV system, where voters rank candidates in order of preference in multi-member constituencies.)

Hermann Kelly, a well-known journalist and close ally of Nigel Farage, once employed by Farage’s European parliamentary group, set up the Irish Freedom Party in the autumn of 2018. Its main policy is ‘Irexit’, but it sees this as part of a broader strategy towards securing a united Ireland – a Republican agenda that would alienate most H&D readers.

Kelly’s IFP messed up its official registration last year, so its European parliamentary candidates had to be listed as independents. This year its registration was in order, but the eleven IFP candidates obtained negligible votes. Their best first-preference vote was 2.1% in Cork NW, local schoolteacher Tara Nic Domhnaill finishing 8th of 9 candidates.

Ben Gilroy, Irish yellow vest leader and IFP candidate

High profile IFP candidate for Dublin Bay North, Ben Gilroy – an anti-eviction activist who had tried to establish himself as leader of an Irish ‘yellow vest’ movement – polled only 1.1%. In Tipperary the party’s chairperson Prof. Dolores Cahill polled only 0.6%; while in Dublin Bay South IFP’s half-Jamaican candidate Ben Scallan also managed just 0.6%.

These results suggest that ‘Irexit’ has for the moment very limited appeal to Irish voters – which is understandable given that the Brexit process, for as long as the Irish Republic remains in the EU, offers the best hope of undermining the Union and moving closer to Dublin’s dream of a ‘United Ireland’. What the IRA failed to achieve by force of arms, might begin to be conceded as part of Whitehall’s Brexit negotiations.

But what of the insidious threats to Irish identity itself – in particular mass immigration and social liberalism? While the IFP certainly addressed these issues, so did several other parties sometimes described as ‘far right’.

Renua has declined sharply since 2016, when it was led by former MP Lucinda Creighton

Renua was founded by former Fine Gael MP Lucinda Creighton in 2015 after she quit Ireland’s ruling party in opposition to liberalising abortion laws. Mrs Creighton resigned the leadership in 2016 and Renua has since become more radical on race/immigration issues. However this year’s snap election came at a bad time for the party, whose leadership is vacant, and its nationwide vote slipped from 2.2% in 2016 to 0.3% this year, fielding 11 candidates. This collapse has serious implications, since parties that score above a 2% threshold qualify for state funding of about €250,000, rising in proportion to the party’s first preference vote share. In common with the other ‘far-right’ parties, Renua will now miss out on these funds. Only the highest of Renua’s constituency votes passed this threshold – 2.0% in Kildare North.

Justin Barrett of the National Party and independent canddiate for Dublin Fingal, Gemma O’Doherty, are two prominent anti-immigration activists

Perhaps the most ‘notorious’ right-wing party in Ireland is the National Party, founded in November 2016 by anti-abortion activist Justin Barrett who has spoken at European racial nationalist events for parties such as Germany’s NPD and Italy’s Forza Nuova. The NP had ten candidates nationwide. Mr Barrett’s second wife Rebecca polled 0.7% as National Party candidate for Limerick City; while deputy leader James Reynolds achieved their highest vote, 1.7% in Longford/Westmeath.

In contrast to the NP, Aontú – founded in January 2019 – sees itself as a mainstream socially conservative party rather than part of a ‘far-right’ fringe. Unlike most other parties (with the exception of Sinn Fein, the Greens, and far-left outfit ‘People Before Profit’) it operates on both sides of the border and has sought recruits from traditional republicans who cannot stomach the mainstream parties’ (and Sinn Fein’s) swing to extreme liberalism on social questions.

Aontú did succeed in winning one seat: party leader Peadar Tóibín was re-elected in Meath West to the seat that he had held for Sinn Fein since 2011, having quit Sinn Fein in November 2018 and set up Aontú two months later. He took 17.6% of first preferences this year, second only to the Sinn Fein candidate who topped the poll. (The big loser in Meath West was Fianna Fáil, whose candidate had topped the poll in 2016 but slipped to fourth this year and lost his seat.) Other strong Aontú votes included 8.4% in Cork NW, but the party’s nationwide vote was only 1.9%.

Peter Casey has fought several high-profile anti-immigration campaigns but failed badly this year

Ireland’s highest profile ‘mainstream’ anti-immigration politician Peter Casey, a businessman best known as a panellist on the television show Dragon’s Den, and runner-up in the 2018 Irish presidential election, was perhaps the biggest disappointment of this year’s election. Standing as an independent, Casey finished 11th of 13 candidates in Donegal with only 1.5%, and made even less impact in Dublin West, where he sought publicity by standing against incumbent Prime Minister Leo Varadkar but polled only 1.1%.

A rival independent ani-immigration candidate, Niall McConnell, fared even worse in Donegal with 0.8%.

A more successful maverick candidate was journalist Gemma O’Doherty, banned from YouTube last year for ‘hate speech’, who took 2.0% in Dublin Fingal, while her associate John Waters (a 64-year-old veteran music journalist) polled 1.5% in Dún Laoghaire on a similar anti-immigration platform.

Perhaps the best news of the election was the success of Verona Murphy, who was disowned by her former party Fine Gael after she made comments about migrants and terrorism while standing as Fine Gael candidate in a Wexford by-election. This year she easily won a seat in Wexford standing as an independent, polling 7.8% of first preferences but elected in third place after transfers from another independent, but more surprisingly also from Fianna Fáil and Labour.

A politically-correct row last autumn over anti-immigration comments by Independent MP Noel Grealish didn’t do any harm to either Mr Grealish, re-elected in Galway West, or his fellow independent Michael Collins, who defended Mr Grealish’s remarks in a radio interview and was himself re-elected top of the poll in Cork SW.

Noel Grealish – re-elected in Galway

So the overall outcome of the Irish election is that there will be at least four members of the new Parliament who, while from very different political traditions, each has a record of speaking out on immigration, in defence of Ireland’s racial and cultural traditions: Aontú’s Peadar Tóibín and three independents – Mrs Murphy and Messrs Grealish and Collins.

Sadly however these will be heavily outnumbered and overshadowed by the success of Sinn Féin, which combines unapologetic adherence to the terrorist traditions of the IRA with an ever trendier ultra-liberalism on race, immigration and the whole gamut of 21st century PC craziness on social questions.

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