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What is fueling the spread of far-right politics in Ireland?

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By Euronews
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Concerns are growing that the number of people supporting far-right ideology in Ireland is growing significantly. It follows rioting in Dublin last week after three children and an adult female were stabbed by a foreign-born Irish citizen. Euronews reporter Ken Murray has the story.

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Antiimmigrant rioters rampaged through central Dublin on Thursday 23 November after three young children and an adult female were stabbed outside a school in the capital earlier that afternoon.

The violence began after rumours circulated on social media that a foreign national was responsible for the attack. Authorities later confirmed the foreign-born assailant was an Irish citizen.

Up to 500 people looted shops, set fire to vehicles and threw rocks at crowd-control officers equipped with helmets and shields.

The unrest led to national uproar, this was the first time in decades that the people of Ireland had witnessed such violence.

These scenes prompted several protests, condemning the attacks and racist rhetoric that fuelled them. Many demonstrators said the rioters simply wanted to cause chaos and not protect the country's way of life. Ireland's Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar also slammed the rioters.

“These criminals did not do what they did because they love Ireland, they did not do what they did because they wanted to protect Irish people, they did not do it out of any sense of patriotism, however warped,” Varadkar told reporters.

“They did so because they’re filled with hate, they love violence, they love chaos and they love causing pain to others.” 

However, the riots revealed that far-right thinking is taking hold in Ireland.

John Mooney, the crime editor for the Irish Sunday Times, told Euronews: “The far-right is a very small movement in Ireland however, they are feeding into concerns about the immigration system in Ireland, the impact that large numbers of migrants are having on Irish society which is putting stress on the housing sector so they are capitalising on this issue.”

The population of Ireland rose from 3.9 million in 2002 to more than 5.1 million in 2022. One in five Irish residents since 1998 was born abroad. 13,000 people are declared homeless. According to the Department of Housing, this is the highest number of homeless individuals since current records began in 2014.

Some 74,000 people have filed for asylum in Ireland, 49,227 of them are Ukrainians. A year ago, the total number was 7,500. 

The Irish Freedom Party, a far-right party has no elected representatives in Irish parliament but has honed in on anti-refugee sentiment which has exploded amid a devasting housing crisis.

Hermann Kelly, from the Irish Freedom Party, spoke out against what he called the government's "system of reckless open borders".

“I believe the Government’s system of reckless open borders allows a large number of unvetted males of unknown origin into the Country has led to an increase, as it has in all countries be it Sweden, France and Germany, an increase in violence and sexual assault," he said. 

Now, anti-refugee sentiment has exploded amid a devastating housing crisis and rising rents, made worse by the destabilising effects of public sector cuts and stagnant wages.

However, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation body (IBEC) maintains immigrants are needed, otherwise, certain sectors of the economy will collapse.

For more on Ken Murray's report, click on the video in the media player above.

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