The riot is over, but there may be more to come

by | Dec 19, 2023 | Opinion, POLITICS

A collage of three photos from the Dublin riots. One is a bus burning, one is a fire in the background behind a lamp-post, and one is of riot police.

Images: Sam Boal, Clodagh Kilcoyne, Robbie Kane

The riots have passed, but there is still a lingering worry of what is to come, especially for non-Irish natives living in the country. What is now almost as, if not more important, is how people and groups reacted to it and how much support the anti-immigration groups have as of now.

It is blatantly obvious how this outbreak of violence was caused due to anti-immigration sentiment, with a large proportion of this being thinly-veiled racism. The disturbing part is how rampant it has become in a country with 20% of its population being from another country.

The government and all major parties have unsurprisingly condemned this act, but this will do nothing to stifle anti-immigrant sentiment both in Ireland and online. 

Anti-immigration groups including The National Party and Irish Freedom Party, who are now vying for political power in the next council elections, have pushed the angle that they are ‘wrongfully’ labelled as far-right despite this ideology including anti-immigration policy as one of its main beliefs. They have backing from Irish citizens, but it is hard to tell if this is enough to make a difference in the elections or just a tiny minority bolstered by far-right nationalists from other countries.

Something that is very difficult to figure out is the scale of support these parties and their ideas have, since the surge in right-wing action was very recent and we lack any elections to go off. For many this sentiment has been known but rarely taken seriously because of how new and seemingly small it is. 

The issue comes with not knowing how large this far-right sentiment is in Ireland due to the nature of social media and media bubbles.

Media bubbles are social media environments where you are only shown posts of what you like and those that represent your own beliefs. This can be as simple as being shown fishing to seeing posts mainly supporting Fine Gael if you support them. Those believing in anti-immigration are no different in this so it is hard to see the full extent of its support online for both those who support and are against it.

It is borderline pointless for news sites to constantly put a highlight on how the far-right are wrong and they should change their ways. Any news agency with differing views is either called ‘fake news’ or ‘mainstream media’ that only pushes a government agenda that will lead to the collapse of Irish culture. There is also no point in condemning their actions when most have already heard more than enough of that from much more qualified reporters. 

What is important to do right now is watch what happens next and wait for hard facts before jumping to conclusions, just like those who rioted in Dublin. 

The plethora of false information discussed about that night while it was occurring meant even I struggled to figure out the truth from fact when it was just beginning. Facebook was filled with images of the army apparently rolling through Dublin to deal with the riots and posts mourning the death of the young girl who was stabbed only for her to be reported as still in critical condition the next day, which were later found to be fake. There are also those who purposefully tell only half the story to better preach their ideals, such as mentioning everyone who went in to save the children in the knife attack but excluding any non-Irish citizens. 

Misinformation online is, on many occasions, more rampant than the actual truth which a lot of the time is much more simple and boring. Everyone has already heard about this before, but many still fall for it over and over again. Even millennials and Gen-Z fall for this, despite growing up with it and being fully aware of the dangerous potential of people distorting truth to fulfil their own agenda. It is so easy to look something up and take five minutes to verify if a piece of information is true or not, or even to simply wait and see if news sites pick it up as a story. However, many do not take those five minutes, resulting in more and more people having beliefs and ideals that are not based on facts, but on fiction.

A banner made up of many black and white images collaged together. Images include protest banners, animals, buildings, and statues.

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