Although our team and contributors are dispersed around Europe our base is Ireland. The violent protests in Dublin a few days immediately drew our attention. The vandalism and violence that happened after three young children and a woman were attacked outside a school are becoming a standard response in too many places for there not to be a pattern. There have been several in France where I live, but also in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and elsewhere. Because all countries tend to put their own news before all else with the exception of major global events, the common strand in many of them tends not to be connected.
What we often see is a rapid response by the thugs who turn out to spark off violence. They are sometimes there before the police but seldom far behind. They frequently have fireworks, flares and clearly accelerants and whatever is also required to start fires, the tools to break shop windows, weapons to confront the police and bystanders with and a common anti-immigrant stance that predominates at present. They turn out in sizeable numbers; have right wing paroles and chants that are too coordinated to simply be recanted by disconnected individuals and small groups. The other commonality is the anti-immigrant sentiments expressed are anti-Muslim. At present, at least, but with the potential to change with time and trends, their violent protests may well include the unsavoury prospect of the always on reserve anti-Semitism later on.
In this case, the violence directed against foreigners hit a bit of a glitch. A 43 year old, Brazilian immigrant, Caio Benicio, a Deliveroo takeaway deliveryman, used his motorbike helmet to stop the man as he attacked five people and stabbed three children and a woman. A 17 year old French trainee chef, Alan Loren-Guille, took the knife away from the attacker fortunately only suffering minor cuts to his hand and face. Warren Donohoe, from Wicklow, was in Dublin with family to celebrate their daughter Abigail’s eleventh birthday. Abigail, who is autistic, ran to raise the alarm. The attacker is said to have been a naturalised Algerian. The right wingers who are anti-immigrant began their violent attacks in Dublin because a ‘foreigner’, who is now Irish, was alleged to have carried out the attack. Two of the men who intervened are immigrants. Perhaps the anti-immigrant violence in this case was in fact simply Islam hate because it happened well before anything was officially said about the suspect other than people on the scene had said without verifiable evidence that the perpetrator was a Muslim.
It is almost as if it is all coordinated continent wide. Any half way imaginative conspiracy theorist could easily construct a version of events in which the people behind the violence who are not the hooligans who do the harm, but dangerous ideologues who remain in the shadows and always seem to manage to ‘evaporate’ so as not to have been even close to the chaos set it up. It is not entirely unimaginable that with enough provocation somebody who is at tipping point anyway, be the reasons personal, ideological or religious, are pushed by some clever instigators who know what will almost certainly happen, therefore have their people ready to start trouble. Of course, that is easy to dismiss as conspiracy theory leaning on conspiracy theory, but something does not seem right with the way the violence occurs.
Right wing and hardcore nationalist groups are receiving support from organisations that claim to be respectable patriotic bodies. One such organisation in Ireland is Gript Media who claim their purpose is to report the news then comment on it in a manner they claim is honest, frank and open. They, in fact, rail against liberalism, abortion, immigration, almost any issue where they gain easy access to a reactionary audience. A cursory glance at their posts on X (ex-Twitter) shows how they stir up hate and fear of immigrants. They, and groups like them, are behind the incentive to rampage on the back of claims of their country being despoiled by foreigners. Whether Gript or any other similarly minded organisation, they are or should be subject to media controls by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland who appear to have let them get away with more than one would normally consider reasonable. Some people might suspect collusion.
Perhaps security forces are looking at a joined up picture of right wing agitation and outbreaks across Europe, they can naturally not say. It was what happened when left wing agitation happened in the past when security intelligence was far less sophisticated than it is now. If that is not being coordinated, perhaps it needs to be. If not, this kind of violence will become endemic. The occurrences that set it off are all far too similar in far too many cases, the relatively rapid response of the violent groups too suspicious and the similarities in that respect hint at coordinated international actions. Dublin, it seems, will not be the last violent demonstration by right wing thugs we shall see, of that we can be sure.