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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate

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By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“'Seven o'clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let's continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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Black Valley broadband installation gets underway

Works are under way to install a high-speed fibre broadband network in the remote Black Valley area of Kerry. The Black Valley was one of the last areas of Ireland […]

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Works are under way to install a high-speed fibre broadband network in the remote Black Valley area of Kerry.

The Black Valley was one of the last areas of Ireland to be electrified but broadband in the region is expected to be live in the second half of the year with residents already able to pre-order their connection. 
“It is well known that Black Valley was one of the last locations to get electricity due to its remoteness and challenging terrain, so we are extremely pleased to be commencing the rollout of our high-speed fibre network now with a view to connections being available later this year,” said National Broadband Ireland Deployment CEO, TJ Malone.
  
“We are determined to ensure the rollout is as fast as possible and connection is made easy for Black Valley residents, and we have a plan in place to work around the location’s all-important tourist season.

“Black Valley is a symbol of NBI’s mission that no area will be left behind no matter how rural or remote and we are delighted that this beautiful location moves one step closer to high-speed fibre today, with all the opportunities that will unlock for the local community.” 

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Players of the year don’t duck a challenge

They never duck when faced with a big challenge on the field so it was safe to assume that GAA players of the year David Clifford and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh […]

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They never duck when faced with a big challenge on the field so it was safe to assume that GAA players of the year David Clifford and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh weren’t going to shy away from the latest task on their home patch.

The two top footballers in the country teamed up to launch a charity duck race which will form part of this year’s St Patrick’s Festival in Killarney, where they both live.

When the working day was done, busy secondary school teachers David and Louise had some great quack and they got caught up in the spirit of the occasion along the scenic River Deenagh in Killarney National Park.

The reigning Player of the Year and Ladies Player of the Year award winner demonstrated their competitive streak when they expressed confidence that their own ducks will win The Deenagh Duck Dash on the same river at noon on Monday, March 18.

But, luckily, festival chairman Jason Clifford was there to keep the peace and he even threatened to cry fowl and brandish a card at the star players – with duck yellow deemed the most appropriate colour.

Considered by many to be the greatest players of all time in their respective codes, between them, Fossa hotshot David and Corca Dhuibhne star Louise have an incredible nine All-Star awards.

But they might be tempted to swap one if their duck wins the fun-filled race on the day after St Patrick’s Day.

All proceeds from the event will go to St Francis Special School in Beaufort, Killarney which provides specialist education for young people with learning disabilities.
Festival chairman Jason remarked: “This isn’t just a race – it’s great fun for the whole family.
“Picture the scene with a flotilla of vibrant rubber ducks racing down a winding river, their owners cheering them on and all in the name of a fantastic cause”.
Super prizes await the winners, the cost of a rubber duck to participate in the race is just €5 and they can be bought online at https://stpatricksfestivalkillarney.ie/.

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