Let’s talk about… Far-right hypocrisy

Viral Clondalkin protest video a prime example of far-right hypocrisy

The other day, a video came across my feed of an exchange that occurred in Clondalkin recently, as anti-immigration demonstrators protesting against emergency accommodation clashed with counter-protesters from Clondalkin For All.

For those who haven’t seen it, the clip depicts an interaction between far-right activist Philip Dwyer and counter-protester Darragh Adelaide. In the video, Dwyer approaches Adelaide, a black Clondalkin native, asking him “Do you want to do an interview young man?”.

Adelaide responds, “An bhfuil Gaeilge agat?” (Do you have/speak Irish?), and continues speaking to him as Gaelige, explaining he’ll only do interviews in the language and asking the far-right activist “Cén fáth atá tú anseo?” (Why are you here?).

Dwyer replies, “Ní thuigim” (I don’t understand).

As Adelaide continues as Gaelige, Dwyer then suggests the Clondalkin native was sent by an NGO, allegedly later asking him repeatedly to tell him what organisation taught him Irish and paid him to attend the protest.

Adelaide, as stated, is a native of Clondalkin, an area well-known for having a vibrant Irish-speaking community. He attended a gaelscoil for his primary and secondary education. In his own words, despite what some far-righters might assume, he has long been “a fluent Irish speaker, and there are many people of colour who speak Irish”.

The clip quickly garnered almost a million views on Twitter/X, with many commenting that the exchange exemplifies the irony and hypocrisy within Ireland’s far-right. It’s a sentiment shared by Adelaide, who commented after the event that it’s “ridiculous” to have someone “who is driven by a love of Ireland… enough to harass” people, somehow not have that love extend to the Irish language.

Because it is ironic, yes, to see Dwyer, a self-proclaimed staunch nationalist, not have the cuplá focail to keep up with a casual exchange as Gaeilge. It’s ironic, yes, that someone protesting against immigration for the sake of keeping Ireland Irish, can’t even understand a simple question in the language. It’s ironic, but as far as making some grand point about the hypocrisy within Ireland’s far-right, which many have suggested this has, I’m not sure how far that take goes.

For the sake of giving a little benefit of the doubt here (which I do in absolutely no defence of Dwyer specifically), I think we’d all admit that knowing or not knowing Irish isn’t the be-all and end-all in determining whether a person is actually as devoted to the country’s betterment as they claim. There are people who care deeply about the country who haven’t any Irish at all, and there are presumably some fluent speakers out there who’re wholly uninvested in the country and its future. Sure, it’s quite funny that for all his grandstanding about being all about Ireland, Dwyer seemingly doesn’t understand any conversational Irish. But it’s not much beyond that.

If the exchange demonstrates far-right hypocrisy in any significant way, I think the more glaring example would be when Dwyer asks Adelaide if an NGO sent him.

His accusation that some organisation must’ve went out of their way to teach Adelaide Irish and pay him to attend the protest is laughable – and not just because it reads like him panicking to find some angle to undermine Adelaide in a way that reeks of the foundation-less conspiratorial tendencies the far-right is known for. The suggestion that Adelaide was there not for legitimate reasons, but instead for money or as part of some larger political agenda, is so laughable coming from Dwyer, because it is something he himself is much closer to being guilty of.

Unlike Adelaide, Dwyer is not a native or a resident of Clondalkin. Whether or not asylum seekers are provided with emergency accommodation in the area is not going to have any direct effect on him. He is not a part of the community he claims to be protesting in service of, while Adelaide is. In fact, the local community reportedly do not share the views of Dwyer in the slightest – for years, Clondalkin has been home to refugees who have been warmly embraced by the community, and who have been as involved in local events as any other residents.

Meanwhile, Dwyer attending the Clondalkin protest fits a larger trend of him travelling to demonstrations to film videos that spread his rhetoric and misinformation, boost his recognition and interaction – and, of course, make money. His bread and butter is attending these controversial demonstrations, spewing conspiratorial misinformation, and posting it all online to make money from YouTube, Telegram, Subscribestar etc… but counter-protesters are the ones there to distort the truth because they’re getting money to?

Dwyer’s far-right activism is a financially prosperous endeavour for him, and will continue to be for as long as the movement has traction. And given recent events – not just the anti-immigration demonstrations, but the Dáil protests a few weeks ago – it appears that if anything, Ireland’s far-right is not just retaining traction, but is on the rise.

As to why, while various factors such as online content like Dwyer’s no doubt play a part, it’s also important to note there are legitimate failings in the current system that are prompting more and more people to turn towards the far-right. And the more we continue to outrightly dismiss the far-right without properly addressing these failings, the more fodder it gives to people like Dwyer to take valid issues like housing and weaponise people’s exasperation in order to spread hate – and line their own pockets.

Because at the end of the day, as much as prominent far-righters use people’s legitimate gripes to draw them to the movement, they are not actually focused on solving these issues; for all the anti-immigration protests Dwyer has attended this year in the name of Irish people being housed first, it’s a wonder he’s always raising money, not for anti-homelessness or housing initiatives, but for himself.

The reason it is so easy to find examples of far-right hypocrisy in a clip as short as the one of Dwyer and Adelaide’s exchange in Clondalkin, is because Ireland’s far-right is all smoke and mirrors. They make a big noise about being all about XYZ, but if you look into it for more than a second, it all falls apart. They are fiercely nationalistic (unless you ask them to speak as Gaeilge), they care about addressing housing (unless you ask them to consider the issue outside of asylum seekers), and perhaps most of all, they are against manipulation, leaders working in self-interest, and the truth being distorted (unless, of course, they’re the ones doing it).