Sunday, March 3, 2024

Ireland: Momentum Builds For New Populist Party as Asylum Crisis Worsens

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A new populist political party is growing in popularity in the Republic of Ireland, amid a backlash against the country’s asylum crisis as well as the impact of green policies.

Independent Ireland is a new political party founded by rural TDs (MPs) Richard O’Donoghue and Michael Collins in November last year. The party is dedicated to reducing the influence of left-wing NGOs and clamping down on asylum fraud rampant throughout Ireland. This comes as migration becomes a hot-button issue ahead of June’s European and local elections.

The party received a boost Monday morning with the announcement that another TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, a popular figure among Irish farmers, would join their ranks. The news comes as the country’s primary opposition party, Sinn Féin, experiences nosediving poll numbers which many have attributed to its pro-migration stance. Meanwhile, a third of the Irish public have expressed a wish to potentially vote for a right-wing populist party.

Although the Republic has not had a formal right-wing populist bloc with parliamentary representation until now, there is a significant number of independent TDs. Many of these are leaning in a more right-wing direction, reflecting a broader trend of anti-immigration sentiment gaining traction in recent months.

In a statement, Fitzmaurice declared the new party to be the “common sense” option for voters. He added that the party would be “a party fit for government,” contradicting those who regard independent politicians as irrelevant contrarians.

“We have a job of work ahead of ourselves over the coming months and years to build a party not just for the next election but for future generations” O’Donoghue declared.

Independent Ireland has already committed to running in upcoming elections in Ireland. Party leader Michael Collins previously spokes at an event hosted by the conservative parliamentary faction European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). The new party is likely to receive official affiliation status shortly.

Ireland is playing catch up when it comes to populism. The country has witnessed its first instance of the farmer protests sweeping across Europe with farmer groups complaining about new nitrate regulations and a potential EU-Latin American free trade agreement. 

Thousands marched in central Dublin last week in the country’s largest anti-immigration demonstration so far. Many liberal commentators are in panic mode over the surge in nationalist sentiment in the aftermath of November’s Dublin riots that followed a stabbing attack by an Algerian migrant.

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