IN the aftermath of the shocking scenes in Dublin there has been a chorus of reaction. Some of it thoughtful and complex, most of it noise that will ensure that any calm on the streets this week or next will be the restoration of a sticking plaster.

The extreme right, and those intent on anarchy, always build until a spark of discontent lights their well-laid tinder of hate. 

The currency of Dublin’s extreme right is built on decades of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil institutional neglect. Take a walk around the revolutionary streets surrounding the GPO on any day or night and you will see extreme poverty, open drug dealing and use, homelessness in all of its forms and decaying infrastructure. This is the deliberate destruction of a working-class community, exacerbated by vulture funds of foreign 'investors' deliberately allowing these streets to fall down around the ears of the city. 

It's easy to call kids who burn buses “feral”. However, policy makers, elected and unelected, hide their responsibility for the reasons a 14-year-old kid throws a bin at a Garda car. While criminal and wrong, so is the system that creates that kid’s lack of expectation for better. The unpalatable truth is that cash garnered from drug dealing and criminality is more attractive to young people because they see no future ahead due to intergenerational poverty, addiction and lack of educational attainment. They already feel detached from society and their communities.

Engaging in what they did on Thursday, while fed by the far right and wrong, is connected to decades of societal dispossession. Why is their violence so much worse than the decades of structural violence of poverty and neglect that they and their families face? Slagging educational disadvantage with posts regarding Easons being untouched by illiterates is deliberately cruel and only serves to compound this alienation.

It is 41 years since the 'Gregory Deal' which built decent homes which gave dignity and a social contract to those most in need in inner-city Dublin. That type of transformative investment is unimaginable today, even though the country is 'richer'.

Casting racism in Ireland as a sad development that began this week, while Direct Provision and constitutional de-citizenship embeds decades-old structural racism in Ireland, has been a breathtaking if convenient exercise in selective hyperbole. The status quo has indulged the extreme right’s racism as it blames 'others' for policy-led disaffection. This deflection reinforces established social order, deflects blame from the policies that cause harm and hurt for abandoned citizens of all colours, and allows the 'Right' to wash their hands, and call those following the 'Extreme Right' feral, racist scumbags, as if they do not hold some blame. Vested interests are thus protected, and real change is avoided. 

While some, especially in Leinster House and the Gardaí, dismissed fascism as “small numbers”, or “insignificant”, the LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities have been left isolated and vulnerable and have continuously pointed to its growing threat. The burning of asylum seekers’ tents in May and the erection of gallows with politicians’ effigies in September were ignored. A few extra Gardaí will in November satisfy many but, conveniently for vested interests, change nothing.

Being tough on fascism means being tough on the breeding grounds for fascism. If O’Connell Street last week is not to become a harbinger of what is to come, we need complex, long-term change.