We should be careful about ‘talking up the influence of a few headbangers’ when it comes to the far-right in Ireland.
That is according to Newstalk Breakfast presenter Shane Coleman, who was speaking after European Law Professor Ronan McCrea questioned whether Ireland’s ‘flirtation with liberalism’ was coming to an end.
In an article for The Irish Times, the University of London Professor said Ireland had been a standard-bearer for social liberalism over the last 20 years – but suggested recent anti-immigrant protests could signify a shift towards more conservative thinking.
Shane said he would be sceptical about the ‘rise of the right’ in Ireland.
“I think we should be careful about talking up the numbers and the influence of a few headbangers,” he said.
“I think social media can do that because you see a video of a protest and you sort of think, this is a huge thing, whereas, in reality, it’s still a tiny number of people.
“I mean, you can never be complacent and say it could never happen here - clearly history has taught us that - but let’s see what the people who represent those views get in the next general election.
“I suspect it will be in the dozens of votes; not even in the hundreds of votes.”
Shane also suggested that there are those on the left who are happy to see a rise in right-wing views.
“They like that division in politics,” he said. “They like that dichotomy between the good and the evil.
“They want that kind of street politics; they want the politics you see in the US - left versus right - and you see it in the UK to a lesser extent.
“I don’t want that kind of politics. I want politics to remain in the centre. I hope that remains the case. I think it will remain the case.”
Fellow presenter Ciara Kelly agreed with Shane – noting that “there is something of the bogeyman” in claims the far-right is on the rise in Ireland.
“I think the national psyche is such here that we always root for the underdog,” she said. “It is the antithesis of the far-right.
“I don’t see it taking hold here. I could also be wrong but I don’t see it.
“I think there is almost a bogeyman - a McCarthyite, fascists under the floorboards, reds under the bed - idea.
“We’re looking for the far-right everywhere like there is some sort of cohesive movement we don’t know about that are operating on the fringes – they’re not.
“They’re just headbangers. Like loopers out there. Disorganised, chaotic and incoherent is what I have seen from anything I have heard in all of this.”
Ciara said she would not expect a political party with far-right views to get more than 1% or 2% of the vote.