Exposing the Far-Right’s Lies: How Fear and Misinformation Target Refugees and Women in Ireland

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Since far-right groups began their most recent period of agitation against refugees in Ireland, they have followed a familiar playbook. They began with claims of false scarcity, asserting that “Ireland Is Full” and insisting that the country needs to “look after our own first.” When the government started moving asylum seekers into disused buildings, these groups spread panic about “unvetted” and “military-aged men.” Soon, they were disseminating outright lies about sexual assaults perpetrated by migrant men. Exposing the Far-Right’s Lies: How Fear and Misinformation Target Refugees and Women in Ireland

The far right’s renewed concern for the safety of women might cause some surprise for campaigners who, in the wake of Ashling Murphy’s murder, endured solidarity vigils and meetings being hijacked by shadowy far-right figures. The claims of these self-proclaimed “protectors” of women fall apart upon closer examination, revealing a track record steeped in misogyny.

A factual look at the far right’s history tells a very different story. Justin Barrett, the current leader of the National Party, was a founder of Youth Defence, an organization that physically attacked those campaigning for women’s reproductive rights in the 1980s. During the 1995 divorce referendum, he was the spokesman for the Youth Against Divorce campaign, showing a clear unwillingness to protect women fleeing violent marriages. Hermann Kelly, leader of the Irish Freedom Party, attempted to discredit Magdalene laundry survivor Kathy O’Beirne and defend the abuse of women and children by the Catholic Church.

The far right has never advocated for women’s safety. Instead, they weaponize violence against women to push their agenda. After the murder of Ashling Murphy, far-right trolls spurred online rumours about the nationality of the perpetrator, focusing on a Romanian suspect and later a Syrian man, both falsely accused. The narrative shifted from addressing violence against women to targeting immigrants, showing the far right’s opportunistic nature.

What the far right ignores is that gender-based violence is a global issue, a symptom of systemic sexism exacerbated by capitalism. Despite national outrage, the government has only paid lip service to demands for increased domestic violence refuge provision. Many counties still lack refuges, and austerity-era cuts to support services have not been fully reinstated.

There is no evidence to suggest that asylum seekers lead to increased crime or gender-based violence. Statistics show that 87% of women murdered in Ireland were killed by a partner or ex-partner. The far right’s focus on immigrant men distracts from the real issue and the systemic changes needed to protect women.

Furthermore, the far right’s selective concern for safety becomes evident in their silence on attacks against women who are not white or Irish. They did not rally for Alanna Quinn Idris, a young black Irish woman brutally attacked in 2021, nor did they protest when LGBTQ+ activist Izzy Kamikaze was assaulted by a National Party member. For far-right groups in Ireland, the only women worth protecting are white, straight, and Irish.

Far-right ideology views women as property to be protected by men from other men. This misogynistic viewpoint is coupled with a disdain for feminism, which they believe threatens the traditional family unit by encouraging women to work. Far-right leaflets proclaim that “Irish women are not safe in multicultural Ireland” and urge men to “Make Ireland safe for women and children,” revealing their true intent to control women.

Targeting migrant men will not end violence against women. To build a society where women can live safely, we must challenge the systemic sexism within our political system. Divisive tactics will only lead to further erosion of women’s rights. Real solidarity lies in fighting the structures that uphold inequality, not in scapegoating the most vulnerable in society.

Exposing the Far-Right’s Lies: How Fear and Misinformation Target Refugees and Women in Ireland

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