Far-right anti-refugee and asylum seeker protesters “want hate”, trade union leader Brendan Ogle has said.
On Thursday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he is “very concerned” that the far-right is on the rise in Ireland and that a recent assault on a migrant camp had “the feel and look of a racist attack”.
Violent language has also been shouted at a number of protests - such as “Burn them out” or “Hang them”.
Unlike other European nations, a far-right party has never served in Government in Ireland but Mr Ogle believes that they do not need to win elections to change the country.
“It is the case that electorally the far-right have not made any gains,” Mr Ogle told The Hard Shoulder.
“It’s also the case in Britain that when the far-right were at their worst for 30 years they made no electoral gains.
“But what they do is they pull the political conversation and the political agenda to the right.
“And when it goes wrong, it really goes wrong - does anybody remember President Trump?
“So, we have no room for complacency but it’s getting worse.”
Mr Ogle also believes that the far-right prefers protest to actual power and the hard choices that come with Government.
“With power comes responsibility and what they trade in is not responsibility, what they trade in hate,” he said.
“They’ve been knocking around issues in this country for years; I remember five years ago they really influenced and largely funded the anti-repeal campaign… Since then, they’ve been looking around for issues.”
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Last year, some 70,000 Ukrainains fled to Ireland and Mr Ogles believes it is this issue that has allowed them to gain support.
“While we’re trying to deal with that, we have a housing emergency that is unjustifiable,” he said.
“People are rightly angry; there is no need in Ireland in 2023 to have a housing emergency.
“There is no need for a minister [to] not build houses and go on about protests.
“So, what they’ve done is, they’ve latched onto an issue that people are absolutely right to be angry about but they turning that anger [and] kicking down at other poor people instead of pushing up to get houses built, get our health system fixed and get the social illnesses we suffer from changed.
“So, that’s how fascism works. That’s how the far-right works.”
Main image: Brendan Ogle.