By Conor Tormey
On Thursday, 6 April, known far-right agitators and conspiracy theorists held a protest inside Swords Library. These figures were escorted by the Gardaí into the Library, while they held back counter-protestors from going inside. The role of the Gardaí needs to be condemned. Despite stating that they were there to “ensure peace and public order is maintained” they willingly escorted far-right figures into the library while telling counter-protestors to “cop on”
This protest happened in the context of libraries issuing instructions to library workers in the case of far-right abuse. These instructions included alerting Gardaí and avoiding commenting to the media in response to the coordinated attempt by multiple anti-LGBTQ+, anti-abortion and anti-immigration organisations, posing as concerned teachers, SNAs, and parents, to get rid of LGBTQ+ books similar to the actions of the far right in the US.
Whipping up transphobia
In late January, a protest organised by these groups was held outside the Dáil. They held signs saying “It’s the adult’s job to protect the children”, while physically assaulting a young trans student who called them out. This attack on libraries also coincides with a concerted email campaign to TDs on planned sex education reform with leaked Telegram messages from far-right figures calling for people to mass-email TDs.
A recently leaked Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting showed that multiple TDs have had more emails opposing the sex education reforms than the eviction ban that is going to push hundreds and potentially thousands into homelessness. This is an indication of how organised these groups are.
Fine Gael “dog whistle”
Fine Gael TDs have been ‘robbing the clothes’ of the far right and TERFs recently with increasing dog whistles and attacks on the trans community. The most outspoken was the man who, after marriage equality and repeal, was said to be the figure of a new progressive Ireland; Leo Varadkar.
Varadkar recently said that trans women don’t belong in women’s prisons, and said the trans debate needs to anchor in the centre because otherwise “the extremes will do all the talking and they just want to shout at each other and score points”. This comment was putting progressive trans activists who are facing a right-wing backlash internationally in the same sentence as people who want to drag Ireland back in terms of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and church control.
What is needed
We should not have any faith in government parties to uphold trans rights. We need a radical fightback. This means a movement that is set squarely against the government and political establishment with its ten-year waiting list for gender-affirming care.
Trade unions that represent library workers should use all their resources to protect their members, including strike action if workers continue to be abused by the far right. As well as this we need to continue to build a movement to stamp out the far right completely, opposing them everywhere they spout their ugly bile. This means a movement that builds an alternative to the conditions that give rise to the far right, namely the crisis of capitalism overseen by this government and the whole capitalist establishment.