The rise of Ireland’s anti-migrant protests
Right-wing populism could outflank Sinn Féin
Originally published on UnHerd on Feb 9, 2023.
Ireland has an immigration problem. Almost a year after refugees started to arrive from Ukraine, leaving state capacity buckled and local communities unnerved, two very different expressions of civic disorder have emerged. In one, migrants are housed in cubicle dorms in office buildings or, even worse, in tents. In the other, grassroots anti-migrant protests are sweeping across the country, rallying around the slogan “Ireland is Full”. There were 307 anti-migrant protests in 2022, while 2023 has already seen 64. At the latest demonstration in Dublin, on Tuesday, more than 2,000 protestors took to the streets.
The focal point of the protests is Dublin’s East Wall, where, in November, after the government converted a state building into a migrant residence without consulting locals, hundreds of people started to gather week after week. By December, the demonstrations spread to other areas — Drimnagh, Finglas, Ballymun and Fermoy. Rather than losing steam as each month went by, the protests continued to intensify, sprouting across the country. And as they did, it became clear that they were different from other anti-migrant demonstrations in Europe.