THE hashtag on the Twitter trending list for Monday read simply #IrelandisFull, interest in the subject of immigration having been piqued by footage online of hundreds of demonstrators gathering outside a Travelodge in Ballymun to scream ‘Send them home!’ at the asylum seekers inside.

A number of Dubliners – including Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy and football legend Philly McMahon – contradicted claims online by far-right groups that the protestors were all from Ballymun. Coincidentally, at the same time as the protest was raging, National Party (NP) pamphlets were being pushed through local letterboxes featuring a picture of small but perfectly-formed NP leader Justin Barret under the message ‘Send them home to save our home’.

‘Ireland is Full’. It’s turned into a catchphrase of the new Irish right,  a bit like the Tories had ‘Strong and Stable’, ‘Get Brexit Done’, ‘Taking Back Control’ and ‘Welcome to the VIP Contracts Lane’. But just as the Tories’ catchphrases were complete boolers (except the last one, obvs), so the idea that Ireland is full is nothing more than a cynical lie designed to exploit genuine fears about the housing crisis in the Republic. (That said, it should be pointed out that, judging by the antics of the crowd in Ballymun, significant numbers of the protestors were very obviously full).

In the most recent World Atlas list of Europe’s 50 most densely populated countries, at number one (omitting anomalies such as Monaco, the Vatican City, and San Marino), was the Netherlands, which has 521 people per square kilometre. The UK is eighth on 272, ahead of Germany on 232. You need to go waaaay down the list to locate the Republic, which sits at number 36 with every square kilometre holding 69 souls. Bottom of the list with just 3.5 people is Iceland, most likely because building houses on volcanoes is not considered a good idea.

And this is probably a good time to throw in the bald and indisputable fact that Ireland is one of the few countries in the world to have a population smaller than it was in the 19th century. If you’re reading this, Justin, that’s got something to do with potatoes and the Brits and not people you don’t know and who never did you any harm in their lives.
So, not just a lie, then, but not even a very good lie. Not even a lie that some swivel-eyed, flag-waving loon would be able to argue for more than ten seconds on the Joe Duffy Show.

The protest took on a surreal turn at one stage when one National Party obersturmbannführer blasted out ‘Come Out You Black and Tans’ on a sound system, a song immediately picked up on and lustily sung by the crowd. What the Black and Tans have to do with asylum-seekers is not a clear at this point, but given the level of National Party-style discourse to be seen on the internet  it may be a hilarious play on the fact that most of the people inside the buildings they are besieging are black. Or maybe even tan.

Some #IrelandisFull tweets for your information, education and edification:
•Ballymun does Ireland proud standing up for her people with Irish Cavalry. We are no-one's colony.
(Irish Cavalry – blokes in North Face jackets taking occasional breaks from vaping to shout insults and threats at people they’ve never met.)
•More buses of middle aged male migrants being flooded into Parnell Street in city centre this afternoon. The Plantation is in full swing.
(Them pesky lowland Scots and Syrians – the harm they’ve done to the poor native Irish.)
•Is it racist to fly my flag proudly now?
(Mate, you’ve had one on your Twitter profile for years and you’ve been waving one non-stop in Ballymun for 48 hours. So what do you think?)
•I think we should get #IrishLivesMatter trending. Our government doesn't seem to care about us and claims we are racist in saying it. This is our country we should be first not the bottom of the pile.
(First for non-existent social housing. First for a €1,500 a month broom cupboard at the outer edge of the Dart network. First for a trolley in A&E. But last to ask Leo and Micheál who’s to blame for that.)
•It's time for ordinary Irish citizens to fight back. Our country is not to be used by globalists as a dumping ground for the world's criminals and delinquents. We've no houses, our hospitals are third world and crime is out of control. Get them out!
(For, as we all know, the Land of Saints and Scholars – and Dublin in particular – has long been renowned for its total absence of criminals and delinquents.)
•Ireland is full. Full of army aged men. Croke Park being used to house them also.
(But we’re not protesting outside Croke Park because the security is pretty good there.)
•Enough’s enough. We need to move on from street agitation to social disobedience.
(As a first step, I’ll be refusing to comply with the exclusion order keeping me five miles away from my wife and kids.)

Flagging up racism for the New Year

ITAMAR Ben-Gvir, Israel’s new national security minister, has banned the Palestinian flag in Israel. It’s the latest in a series of punitive measures implemented by Israel after the UN voted by a large majority to seek an opinion from the International Court of Justice in the Hague on Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. In a new coalition government widely considered the most extreme in the history of the state, Ben-Gvir is considered perhaps the most far-right of them all.

He was exempted from conscription into the Israeli army because of his extremist views. In 1995, he threatened Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin on television, promising he would “get to him”. Three weeks later Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli ultra-rightist.
Ben-Gvir has a criminal record for incitement to hatred of Arabs and was a member of the ultra-right extremist group Kach, led by the notorious Rabbi Meir Kahane and considered a “terrorist” organisation by the US. Kahane was a self-avowed racist who advocated the forcible expulsion of all Arabs from Israel.

As recently as 2019, Ben-Gvir said that all Arabs who were not loyal to Israel “must be expelled” from the state.  A Kach colleague of Ben-Gvir, Baruch Goldstein, carried out the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre in Hebron in 1994, gunning down 29 Palestinian men and boys as they prayed. Throughout his professional and political life, Ben-Gvir has kept a portrait of the mass-murderer in his office, only taking it down in 2019 ahead of his first run for a Knesset seat.

In December 2021, Ben-Gvir pulled a gun on an Arab attendant in the underground car park of a Tel Aviv conference centre after he was asked to move his car, which was in a prohibited space. He again produced a gun during an incursion by Israeli colonists into the Sheikh Jarrah area of East Jerusalem, urging police to shoot stone-throwing Palestinian youths and shouting at residents: “We’re the landlords here, remember that. I’m your landlord.”

On January 3, in his first act as national security minister, Ben-Gvir broke an agreement with PM Netanyahu by visiting the Temple Mount, leading to a wave of condemnation, including from the Israeli Chief Rabbi, the US, the UK, France and the Arab world.
The triumph of the far-right in Israeli politics – or perhaps more accurately in Ben-Gvir’s case the ultra-far-right – was enabled by a recent amendment of Clause 7A of Israeli Basic Law which prohibits anyone with a history of “incitement to racism” from running for the Knesset. The racist floodgates in Israel, already badly holed and hanging off their hinges, have been swept away.

*Financial Times. Times of Israel. The Economist. Reuters. Israel Hayom. BBC. Al-Jazeera. The Jerusalem Post. Wikipedia. The Guardian.