There is a “level of similarity” between protests on the far-right and the far-left, according to Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty.
Following a far-right protest at Leinster House that quickly turned violent last week, questions have been raised about the severity of protests in Ireland.
In particular, questions have once again been raised around the ‘horseshoe theory’ that those on the far-left of the political spectrum end up causing similar harm as those on the far-right.
Socialist TD Mick Barry told The Hard Shoulder there has been attempts in the last week “to paint the socialist left and the far-right as twins”.
“I would argue that they are opposites,” he said.
“The socialist left stand for workers' rights, the far-right are anti-union.
“The socialist left are anti racist, the far-right are racist to the core.
“One side stands for progress, the other stand, in my view, stands for reaction.”
Deputy Barry pointed out that the “political entity” that has countered the threat of the far-right “on the streets, in communities and at Parliament” has been those on the far-left such as People Before Profit and Solidarity.
'Sometimes that does spill over'
Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty agreed the ideological stances of the far-left and the far-right are different, but violent protests are not unique to those at the Dáil last week.
“There's a level of similarity,” she said.
“The socialist left has been very inclusive in their protests and tried to stand up for people, whereas what we now call the far-right are exclusionary, despicable, vile and racist.
“But sometimes that does spill over."
Ms Doherty said Deputy Barry might suggest the 2014 anti-water charges protest, which saw Former Labour Leader Joan Burton trapped in her car, was “peaceful”.
“I have to tell you, if I was in my car for three hours with that crowd around me banging on my car, and policemen having to scurry me from one car to another, I wouldn’t call that peaceful,” she said.
“They’re not quite the same to the group last week, but the level of anger was similar.
“It’s when protests become fuelled with anger, with ignorance, with bitterness, with bile that they become the same.”
Deputy Barry said the 2014 Jobstown protest was “organised spontaneously” and had no party affiliation.
“The left decided rightly, in my view, to stand with that community on that day,” he said.
“The left also played a key role in ensuring that those protests ended in an organised and a peaceful fashion.”
Ms Doherty said those anti-water charges protestors did achieve their goal – but he cannot say it was peaceful.
“The hypocrisy of his stance, I think, speaks for itself,” she said.
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