Before I come to my own (unsuccessful) candidacy, let me offer a few takeaways from Ireland’s general election last weekend.
Many of the most strident pro-abortionists—from all parties—have lost their seats, including about a dozen of the key players (most of them female) who pushed 2018’s “Repeal” amendment. This appears to be a random outcome. Or, it might be some kind of visceral response from deep in the electorate’s unconscious: In 2019, Irish women had three times as many abortions (about 1,000 per month) as Irish women had in the U.K. in the year before the 2018 abortion referendum. None of these abortions were, as far as we know, performed on 13-year-old rape victims (contrary to about 70 percent of the media coverage that preceded the referendum vote).
This outcome seems to amount to a purely negative statement. Pro-life candidates did reasonably well, but not outstandingly. You could not say there was a pro-life vote—more an anti-abortion vote, delivered without comment or fanfare. It was that kind of election in general. Voters seemed to vote not so much for things, parties, or candidates as against things, parties, and candidates. As in the last election four years ago, voters seemed trapped between non-alternatives, and ended up appearing to vote for something that nobody had placed before them.
The result of the election is that the next government will almost certainly be either a coalition between the two Civil War parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, or a coalition between one of these and Sinn Féin—a residue of the Provisional Republican movement that constituted one side of the 30-year conflict in the North of Ireland from the late 1960s to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Since FF and FG coalescing would finally confirm that ultimately there is no difference between them, it seems unthinkable that, short of a national emergency, FF and FG will contemplate formal wedlock. Right now, it seems that Sinn Féin will be the dominant element of the next government.
The success of the “Shinners,” barely restored to breath after several decades of murder and mayhem, suggests that history has long been eliminated from Irish schools. The collapse of the Irish Fourth Estate also advances at a frightening rate. Our Press is now no more than a bulletin board for establishment messages, and—more occasionally—kneecapping squads to be despatched as needed against the establishment's opponents. It is astonishing how little people know about what is being done to their country. Most think it impossible that they could ever lose it. But the day is already far spent.
Sinn Féin presents itself as a left-wing nationalist party, whereas in truth it is a globalist party with a scatter of populist-left policies: open borders, transgenderism, abortion, etc. Having not long ago journeyed under the slogan “Brits Out,” it nowadays supports mass immigration into Ireland and viciously attacks anyone who dissents. I, along with my colleague Gemma O’Doherty, was among those who challenged these policies, now pursued by every party in the Oireachtas (parliament). Our grouping, Anti-Corruption Ireland (ACI), sought to initiate a discussion on this topic before it becomes too late. No such luck. The mainstream media ignored our campaigns until the vote was safely over, when they all began denouncing and ridiculing our failure to make a major impact.
All my life as a working journalist in the Irish media, I indulged the quirks and foibles of the Irish political system. But all such forbearance has evaporated in recent years as penny after penny began to drop about the true state and direction of our country. All these factors were instrumental in my decision to run for office: The parlous condition of our economy, grounded in the extremely uncertain policy of attracting foreign direct investment with the bait of, in effect, a zero tax rate for corporations; the unprecedented numbers of immigrants arriving in Irish cities and towns; the resulting crises of escalating homelessness, fraying health services, gridlock; the attempts by the political class and media to close down all discussion of these connections and, latterly, the mooting of “hate speech” legislation as a way of punishing those who refuse to fall silent.
It was strange to find myself doing this. Cometh the hour, cometh the burden: The political system and media have refused to provide any form of opposition, so increasingly perturbed citizens have had to step into the breach, now as in the referendums of the past decade.
I was blessed to have a team of 20 volunteers. I ended my campaign not knowing whether I'd get 10 votes or 10,000, and ended up getting just short of 1,000. I was intrigued—not exactly shocked—that all “national populist” candidates and factions ended up between 1 and 2 percent. The relentlessness of the indoctrination and diversion is quite terrifying, especially regarding what is called the “far right” (sometimes the “hard right”).
Still, foundations have been laid for a more concerted drive next time—provided it is not then too late to overcome the effects of the virtually unrestricted immigration that looks set to continue, and the determined attempts of the Irish media to block all discussion of this.
The evening after I announced my candidacy, I went to the end of a meeting of pro-life activists near where I live and learned they had spent the previous two hours discussing mass immigration. It was the first time they had had such a discussion and they had surprised one another by the extent of their agreement, especially since the immigration and pro-life issues seemed unconnected. I pointed to one connection: Their public representatives no longer support the values, culture, or interests of Ireland. Our country, I told them, is being stolen from under us—in the name of “globalism,” “progress,” “equality,” “openness,” and/or “tolerance.” But there is little tolerance for the perspective of the average Irish citizen, who must shut her trap and keep on paying.
FG, which has been in power for nearly a decade, has bared its fangs more than once recently at people who dared to dissent. Although one of our founding documents—the Proclamation read out after the Easter Rising of 1916—declared “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies,” the political class of the 21st century hides behind a nauseating pseudo-humanitarianism. They seek to bully the native Irish into, in effect, standing down all such claims and handing their country over to the globalists.
In the penultimate week, my “party leader” asked me to speak at a public meeting in Balbriggan, the main town in her north-Dublin constituency—one of the areas most radically transformed by the waves of immigration that have silently crashed against Ireland over the past two decades. The evening provided an extraordinary look at the condition of Ireland as a democracy protected by the rule of law.
Approaching the venue with my wife, I was confronted by a half-masked thug. He stopped before me, moving in either direction when I tried to walk around him, then pushed his face into mine, unleashing insults and expletives. I played dummy and he got bored. We eventually managed to access the venue, but another speaker was marooned in his car outside the gate for an hour, with a mob of perhaps seventy mostly masked thugs sitting on his bonnet and blocking his entry. Members of An Garda Síochána (police) sought to appease the mob by persuading him to go away. At least half the goon squad was supplied by Antifa, the fascist protest movement posing as anti-fascist. They can be found at all public protests relating to immigration, deployed by state agencies and NGOs to quell all objections to mass migration. The remainder of the mob comprised a handful of local roughnecks—most likely hired to give legitimacy to the containment—and no migrants at all.
In the end, the police threatened the speaker with arrest for “blocking the road,” so he drove away. We continued with our meeting, addressing about 90 of our fellow citizens. They, like us, seemed unable to get their heads around what was happening to the country in which we had grown up.
The outcome of the election might appear to announce a new beginning, but this may not be quite so straightforward. The electorate’s rejection of the Big Beasts—FF and FG—was entirely predictable. FG has been in power for nine straight years, during which time it introduced some of the most radical changes ever experienced in Ireland, all under conditions of extreme propagandizing and illegal interference—financial and otherwise—from outside. Even those who had voted under hypnosis for some of these changes were growing tired of outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s smug smile and colored socks, his flaunting of his six-packed boyfriend and, above all, his total lack of affinity with the average Irish voter. Still, voting FF back into power just twelve years after they bankrupted the country would have seemed one madness too many. So the voters spurned both Tweedledum and Tweedledumber in favor of Tweedledum-dum. Inevitably, from the outside this will read as a “move to the left” or a “shift toward populism,” whereas it is merely a last-ditch default from a Hobson’s choice.
YouTube pundit Steve Turley has compared Ireland to Italy and Greece, with their two-step shifts from stolid centrist globalism to “national populism” via a brief detour down the left-wing populist flank. As Turley sees it, whereas the Irish electorate seeks some instrument to express its disgruntlement with the centrist globalist mainstream, it has nowhere to go at the moment except the populist left represented by Sinn Féin. That’s one plank of the explanation; other factors include the closing down of virtually all public discussion on crucial issues and Sinn Féin’s slow, careful, and crafty march through the institutions of the Republic over the past thirty years, rendering it the political voice-of-choice of Irish working-class communities. Indeed, Sinn Féin’s success has dragged the Big Beasts leftward on issues like abortion and gay marriage.
But Turley also believes this may be the beginning of the end for the globalist left in Ireland. As he sees it, one of the ways nationalist populist parties emerge is when pressure builds up to challenge established entities who have refused to respond to public concerns about lack of border controls and so forth. Turley calls these “bootlegging parties”—Lega in Italy, Vox in Spain, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands—all of which have in due course mounted serious threats to their centrist establishments. Sometimes the initial putsch is carried out from the left, as in Greece and Italy, but this invariably manifests as a phase, says Turley.
Once the populist left overturns the center and smashes the status quo, they seem to do two things: They open up opportunities for other third parties to come in—like newly formed nationalist right parties. And second, the populist left always disappoints, largely because their economic solutions are problematic, and all the while they leave the borders completely open. The status quo remains.
Precisely. In both Greece and Italy it was the nationalist populist right that ultimately capitalized on the populist left’s earlier successes. It seems plausible, if slightly too good to be true, that Sinn Féin’s breakthrough precedes a similar phenomenon in Irish politics. I’m not sure where the Irish Salvini will come from, but I’m pretty confident that it’s not going to be me.
John Waters is an Irish writer and commentator, the author of ten books, and a playwright.