Progressives in Ireland protest austerity and xenophobic attacks on refugees 

A mounting cost-of-living crisis in Ireland has been used by far-right groups to fan the flames of xenophobia. Progressives have called out the government’s policies as the real reason

January 31, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Anti-racism Protest - Ireland
Protest demonstration in front of Leinster House, Dublin. (Photo: via Dublin Communities Against Racism)

On Saturday, January 28, activists from various community organizations and left-wing groups united in front of the Leinster House, the seat of the Irish parliament, under the banner of ‘Dublin Communities Against Racism’ to protest the rise in far-right attacks against refugees in the country. The protesters also denounced the pro-rich policies of the incumbent government—a coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party—which have led to the deterioration of livelihoods of the working class.

Ireland, like most of Europe, is experiencing a cost of living crisis marked by rising food and fuel prices. The country has also been witnessing an acute housing crisis, which is pushing an increasing number of people toward homelessness. While the austerity policies followed by the neo-liberal leadership of the Irish Republic are among the main reasons for these crises, various far-right forces have used this opportunity to attack refugees and immigrant communities, blaming them for the current conditions. Meanwhile, progressives accuse the Irish government of racism due to its inhumane treatment of refugees from Asia and North Africa, especially when compared to the treatment given to the Ukrainian refugees.

In its statement on January 28, the Dublin Communities Against Racism “called on people to reject the propaganda of the far-right that there is no housing crisis in Ireland, no health crisis, and no cost-of-living crisis but simply an immigration crisis.” The group said that “This lie only serves to whitewash the failures of the establishment and is designed to do so. Similarly, we have noted the targeting of Sinn Féin and left-wing parties, while little is said about Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael who have governed the state since it was established. Again, in the traditional role of fascists, this is to help maintain the status quo and there can be no doubt the far-right is being funded to do this. We would particularly caution all who consider themselves patriots to steer well clear of the far-right parties as you could well end up discovering that you are working for foreign state or non-state actors.” 

“We would remind everyone that the far-right is not only anti-immigrant, but anti-women and anti-LGBT and viciously opposed to working class organizations like trade unions, while supportive of a socio-economic system under which the rich get richer while the needs of the people remain unmet,” the group added.

In a statement to Peoples Dispatch on January 30, Jimmy Corcoran, general secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI), said that “the government’s austerity and  EU-dictated market-led housing policy has created a crisis of homelessness in Ireland. This, plus a crisis in the health service, precarious employment, and the increase in the cost of living has hit working class communities hard. The far-right has targeted these communities and focused on their genuine problems to stoke up anti-immigrant hostility, resulting in anti-migrant protests.”

“A coalition of anti-racist community activists has come together to form ‘Dublin Communities Against Racism.’ They have issued a manifesto, protested outside the Dáil, and begun organizing against the right in their communities,” Corcoran added.