Left, Right, What’s it all about?

I’ve never liked politics and never understood the political terms “right” and “left”. However, I got to know the “far right” during the spring of 2018 when the Direct Provision centre was proposed for Lisdoonvarna. I got to know their tactics, their lies, the way they use peoples fear and confusion to further their own agenda. I was subjected to their abuse and watched many others be intimidated to the point where they walked away. While writing my book Ireland at the Cro Lisdoonvarna, Direct Provision and the far right I had to do some research so that I could explain the terms.

The political terminology of “right” and “left” were first used during the French Revolution in the 18th century as the politicians were sitting in the Parliament. Those to the right were supportive of the institutions of the monarchist regime and those to the left wanted the institutions changed. Right wing politics is described as conservative; seeking to preserve existing conditions, institutions and systems as much as possible. Someone with right-wing political views would generally have a position that social inequality is normal, inevitable or possibly desirable. Much like the thinking of the French monarchy. The far right are often fighting what most of society would call progress.

This is the case in Ireland. We have right wing political parties who object to same sex marriage and a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Some want the role of the church to be stronger within the workings of the state. Their agenda is the reversal of changes made after referendums where the Irish citizens voted. They are anti democracy. They are blatantly racist. They are homophobic. They are mysoginistic. I am not going to add links to encourage traffic to their propaganda but it exists and it’s all available online if you need to see proof.

The introduction of violence to peaceful protest is very worrying. As someone who has been protesting for over a decade I have never encountered violence. The last 2 protest led by the far right have had violent incidents. In the first a person was hospitalised having been hit over the head by a hammer. Last weekend someone was hit over the head with a wooden length draped in a tricolour. Both incidences were caught on camera and both were obvious vicious attacks on unarmed activists standing by in a counter, peaceful protest against the far right. There were also incidences of onlookers being intimidated. This intimidation, bullying and violence is what gives some far right aggressors and agi the “fascist” label. Given the chance I have no doubt that they would convert Ireland to a fascist state.

Fascism is defined as “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

The far right in Ireland are currently hijacking the public discontent with the governments reaction to Covid19. This is what they did in Lisdoonvarna when the community was in a state of confusion because of government actions. I don’t mind if you question masks, question restrictions, question whatever you want but be careful of the far right leading your revolution.

What is a major concern to me is the reaction of the Gardai. They seem to be siding with the fascists. As a peaceful protestor and someone seeking justice for all I am very disappointed with their reaction. Also the state media. It appears as though the implications of a rise in fascism is lost on them. 

I’m not sure what the “far left” looks like – perhaps those who want to make the system more equal by force? I don’t think they exist in Ireland. The left question the inequalities in society and are increasingly championing the state of the environment. Having done my research and knowing my own stance on issues I’m happy in the knowledge that I am a leftie.

Theresa O’Donohoe

September 2020

This is an old post I found in my drafts. My book is now printed and available here from Orpen Press.

Published by Theresa OD

Change maker and mother of 5 living in the west of Ireland

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