I’VE never been the sort of person who gets emotional about a flag. It has never stirred patriotic fervour, probably because growing up in Northern Ireland meant that flags were almost universally used in a negative way.
Nevertheless, I found myself annoyed to see the Irish tricolour being brandished by several figures in the mob rioting and burning Garda cars and buses in Dublin’s O’Connell Street last Thursday.
It was a disturbing sight, and somewhat surprising that the Garda seemed so flat-footed in their response. Wouldn’t you think the Commissioner, Drew Harris, had plenty of experience of rioting in his previous job? And why hasn’t An Garda Síochána got their own water cannon?
- Tom Kelly: The Liffey cried as Dublin went up in flames
- The Irish News view: It is utterly reprehensible that one appalling crime – a stabbing attack on children – was exploited by those who were intent only on wreaking destruction
- John Manley: Historically the Republic has been largely free of far-right ideology but racism is on the rise
Looting Dublin shops and shouting slogans
What ideology inspires these “patriots” to run amok, looting shops for expensive trainers and attacking the police, while shouting anti-immigrant slogans? Stupidity, mostly.
But what was more insidious than the yobbery in the capital city’s most famous street was the ugliness of the discourse on social media that followed the horrific knife attack on the young children and their care assistant.
The attacker’s nationality and supposed religion was widely discussed, with many suggesting that Ireland had been a violence-free zone, where women and children could walk the streets safely, until the country was overrun with blood-thirsty foreigners.
The fact that a delivery driver, also foreign, hit the assailant with his helmet and disarmed him was strangely not mentioned by the keyboard warriors.
It’s deeply depressing that Ireland, which for centuries has sent its young men and women to find work and a better life across the globe, is now saying there’s no room for those people from poorer countries wanting to do the same.
Conor McGregor and hateful nonsense
And of course, who should join the rabble-rousing but martial arts fighter Conor McGregor, who’s been making comments about immigration in Ireland and claiming the country is “at war”.
It might be that McGregor has had one too many kicks to the head to be taken seriously as any kind of political prophet, but it’s worrying that someone with more than 10 million followers on Twitter/X can spout such hateful nonsense.
That sort of talk used to be seen as the preserve of the more xenophobic Brits who take the Daily Mail and The Sun as gospel. But it’s spread even wider by the bigoted echo-chamber of social media.
And more worryingly, it’s become a global phenomenon, now that many European countries are facing the challenge of migrants at their borders.
It has led to an ugly political response too, with right-wing leaders rising to power in Italy, Hungary and even Sweden.
- Maybe Peter Robinson was secretly jealous he could never be one of the 'Chuckle Brothers' - Mary Kelly
- Pantomime baddie Braverman sacked after shameless Trumpian pitch to dregs of British society – Mary Kelly
- Mary Kelly: 'We were six siblings, now we are five. We will feel Patrick's loss forever'
Even the Dutch are at it
While too many voters in the US are seriously planning to re-elect Donald Trump – the worst president in American history – for a second term, the normally sensible Dutch have given a thumping majority to the anti-Islam right winger Geert Wilders.
And what is it with these populist leaders and ludicrous hairstyles?
Trump’s bright yellow coiffeur looks like Daffy Duck is having a lie-down on his bonce, while Wilders’ is like a bouffant 99 cone. And don’t get me started on Argentina’s latest political victor, Javier Milei, who sports a dyed, early Beatles-era mop, that’s a cross between a mullet and a dead skunk.
It’s nearly as bizarre as his political ideas, which include shutting down the country’s central bank, replacing the peso with the dollar and creating a market for selling human organs.
Wilders is already talking about a Nexit, taking the Netherlands out of the EU, as he’s obviously seen how well that’s going for the UK.
A recent study by Bath University suggested that people who supported Brexit tended to be less intelligent and more susceptible to lies and disinformation than those who voted to remain.
Funny that. Does it also possibly apply to those who blame migrants for every social ill, unemployment, lack of housing, collapsing health care instead of lousy governments? Pick the easy target, eh.