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Roots of disadvantage must be addressed to quell far-right threat

By Paul Mulholland - 04th Dec 2023

far-right threat

The events that unfolded in Dublin city centre on Thursday 23 November were truly shocking. The attack at Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire in Parnell Square early in the day was horrifying in its brutality and consequence. The eruption of violence that evening and night was the worst the capital experienced in decades. It offered the most conclusive proof yet that Ireland hasn’t escaped the growth of far-right and anti-immigration sentiment which has spread across many countries in recent times.

The riot had a direct impact on health services. A small number of patient diversions to other hospitals from city centre hospitals were necessary. There were also difficulties in the movement of ambulance services within the city. The National Ambulance Service called in five extra crews to support paramedical responses.

In the wake of the violence, many people took to social media to highlight the important role immigrants play in contemporary Irish society. Healthcare workers pointed out how our hospitals would not be able to function without the essential contribution of international staff. This issue’s cartoon by Dr Eoin Kelleher illustrates this point succinctly (see below). The statement released by the IMO also captured the reaction of many of those working within the health service.

“Our thoughts are with the children and families affected by the attack at the school in Dublin city yesterday and, in particular, the young child and carer who are being treated in hospital,” according to the Organisation.

“We condemn the violence that occurred in Dublin city centre last night and wish to offer our full support to all our international colleagues across the emergency and health services who continue to deliver much-needed care and support in our communities around the country.”

Statements such as this are an important reminder of the positive effects of immigration. But arguments for immigration should not only be framed by the benefits it brings. People who come to these shores deserve dignity and respect irrespective of the job they have. They deserve dignity and respect because this is what everybody is entitled to, regardless of race or creed.

There is a lot of talk within political and media circles about the need for greater Garda presence within Dublin city centre. However, more gardaí will not address the roots of the problem. The recent rise of the far-right, not only in Ireland but internationally, can largely be explained by how it has successfully exploited the grievances of those living in disadvantaged areas. Unless the causes of socio-economic inequality are comprehensively tackled, this exploitation will continue. And the crowd violence that happened on 23 November is likely to reoccur, in one form or another.

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